Quintin Williams, founder of Q.DESIGNS, reached out to us a while back to showcase his sneaker design ideas he had while working with another company. Now Quintin has gone off on his own and decided to try and turn his awesome ideas into reality. We wanted to put the spotlight on Quintin so our readers can see that anything is possible with enough hard work and dedication and if at the end of this interview you want to help Quentin get his designs out to retail then you can support his indiegogo campaign.
SBD: What made you decide to come up with your own sneaker line?
Q: Q.DESIGNS was designed to be a brand that encompasses both casual/lifestyle shoe aesthetics along with sport/basketball aesthetics…a hybrid. I chose to take this route because I personally love to wear footwear that have a classy look if I want to dress up, but seeing that I’m an ex-basketball player, I love wearing basketball shoes when dressing down. Then one day I thought, “Why can’t I wear both simultaneously?” That day, I decided to make it a reality be introducing this line of shoes.
|SBD: Tell us about your experience (work history) that got you to this point.
Q: My experience in sneakers has quite the journey, so bare with me through this story..haha. I attended the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) for a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design in the year of 2007 with the hopes of becoming a car designer. Shoes were things I would draw in my spare time at home and in class, but cars, basketball, and anything performance really intrigued me. During my enrollment and leading up to my junior year, I really started getting back into sneaker design due to a Reebok Apprenticeship I applied for and didn’t make. After that experience I was determined more than ever to learn how to get better and that I was one of the elite young footwear designers out!
So I kept adding footwear material to my portfolio, hoping that the next year they would recognize me. Toward the end of my junior year, I landed a 4-month internship in Brooklyn, NY designing safety/construction boots. With the help of my first mentor, Michael Mack, I gained so much knowledge and first-hand experience of what it takes to not only design a shoe, but to have it manufactured. The feeling I got when I held my first sample I designed was similar to a mother holding her first child…haha. From then, I knew I was in the right field of design and that it was my calling.
During my internship, I would constantly scan the internet for more opportunities in footwear design that would give me more knowledge and exposure to the field…I was hungry for more! Luckily, I was one of 23-hand picked students from around the world to attend PENSOLE in Portland, OR under the teachings of D’Wayne Edwards (Former Brand Director of JORDAN Brand). PENSOLE was a 3-week footwear intensive course that gave you real-world experience of what it takes to work at some of the biggest brands out there including NIKE, Adidas, and Converse. As a young-aspiring footwear designer, the experience was one of a lifetime. Met and learned from some legendary footwear designers along with some of the best young designers in the world. I recommend it to anyone serious about becoming a footwear designer.
After my stay in Oregon, I went back to finish two quarters at SCAD, leaving me with one to complete for graduation. During my last break, the company I interned with in Brooklyn wanted me to come back to help design a line of athletic boots….but in China! So I live in Dongguan, China for 2 months on the factory designing, developing, and over looking the a line of boots. The culture, the people, the hands on experience in China really opened my eyes as to what being a footwear designer was about. You are creating pieces of art that pull together so many people globally in the grand scheme of things! From your creation, you give the world something useful and cool at the same time.
I graduated SCAD in the Winter of 2011 with my Industrial Design degree. So now I needed to find a job! There were 8 months of sending emails, late-night sketching, rendering, trend researches, and competition entries until I won first-place in a national footwear design competition held by a start-up company in Birmingham, AL named Power Force Apparel. After receiving my grand prize in New York, I moved to Birmingham to become their Lead Footwear Designer for a year. I’m now the Lead Footwear Designer for PEAK Sports USA in Los Angeles.
My journey has very interesting for a 24-year-old designer and I’m very thankful. I still have lots to learn! But I feel confident in the skills that I’ve gained so far, which is why I decided to start my own footwear design consultancy. So far I’ve designed for Spira, Native Shoes, The Disney Company, and a few more. I simply just love designing cool sneakers.
|SBD: Most people don’t know what it takes to get sneakers manufactured, walk us through it.
Q: The process of manufacturing a shoe is simple in theory, but a long a process in reality. If you’re working for a big corporation, it would go something like this. The company would say what type of shoe they are looking to sell/promote. Your Brand Director would then be in charge of creating a brief to lead the designers as far of inspirations, target markets, and price points. This gives the designers a “box” to design within. We then design accordingly. Honestly for me, the first time around you want to design beyond the limits of the brand. Explore as much as possible…push the envelope. Then the Brand Director will pull it back to reality if needed.
After a few rounds of exploring, the team will decide as to what design is best appropriate for the target market the company is aiming for. The designer creates a techpack of the chosen design, which is basically the details and measurements of the shoe. Materials, outsole specs, colorways, etc. That techpack is then sent to the factory where your developers and sample room team start to make the first sample of the design. After revisions and many conversations back and forward you receive the final sample. This final sample will by the basis of what the entire collection of shoes will look like. Then you are into production! Once production is finished, the shoes are shipped stateside and placed into stores, boutiques, and online retailers for you to buy and wear on your feet. This process can take anywhere from a year to a year-and-a-half. Or longer! Depends on the details of the project at hand.
|SBD: You started an indiegogo campaign to help get your started, why did you choose that route instead of trying to get an investor on board?
Q: For my personal brand, I chose to go the Indiegogo route because I felt that it was best to try crowd funding first because you would be working to receive funds to support yourself instead of running to an investor and asking for money that you would possibly be paying back in the future. Or even giving that person a portion of something you put your heart and soul into. I just felt that I’d try my luck supporting myself first. There is nothing wrong with finding an investor though! If that’s something I need to try after my campaign ends, then so be it! But being an ex-basketball player, it’s the challenge of doing it by yourself that intrigues me the most.
|SBD: How would you best describe your sneaker line?
Q: I would describe my sneaker line as being “game-changing” because it’s bringing two worlds of footwear together into one. Casual and athletic. I want this line to embody both realms because it just makes sense to me! To be able to wear a shoe that you can dress up or down with is something I see being the trend of the future. And Q.DESIGNS will be the first pioneer with the help of supporters.
If you want to support Quintin and purchase a pair of your own then head over to his indiegogo page and check out the options.