Former DMU student's footwear design consultancy wins international award

Footwear design expertise and a commitment to product excellence has earned a former De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student a prestigious, international award.

Schwilliamz Creative Consultants was announced the winner of the Fashion Sneakers and Fashion Sandals category in the Global Footwear Awards for its work on Limitless Slides™.

Ann Williams, co-owner and creative director at Schwilliamz, studied Footwear Design at DMU and has since enjoyed a career in the footwear industry working all over the world.

Ann Williams 560

Ann said: “It’s wonderful to be recognised by the Global Footwear Awards. It’s been a true team effort collaborating with our client Limitless Slides™ and our development partners in the USA and the Far East.”

Recalling her time at DMU, Ann said: “There were three main things that made the biggest impression on me during my degree. The first two, working in the studio and engaging in projects sponsored and critiqued by some of the biggest names in footwear, provided invaluable hands-on experience and ensured I developed the technical and collaborative skills to take designs from sketch to 3D prototype.

“Thirdly, I learned to take creative risks and utilise other departments in the university to push new and innovative design ideas.”

After graduating in 1993, Ann worked for Clarks, where she had been an intern the year before. “My time there was crucial in continuing to grow my footwear knowledge and experience,” she said.

“I worked with, and learned from, other amazing designers, many of whom also graduated from DMU. Much of the work was hands-on, something for which I was well prepared from my time at university.”

Ann relocated to the United States where she worked as a Director of Product and Design at the Stride Rite Corporation. Subsequently, she made the decision to establish her own business, something she had always aimed to do.

Ann said: “I always had the goal to eventually own and run my own business, but until this point, I had never been 100 per cent sure what shape it would take. In October 2003, with a full-service footwear design consultancy business model in hand, I set up my business with my husband as my partner.

“Schwilliamz has now been in business for more than 20 years, and we are fortunate to work with clients worldwide, ranging from major, well-established brands to small start-ups.”

Schwilliamz Limitless GFA 560

Ann’s advice to students and graduates would be: “Don’t underestimate how often you will use the knowledge you developed during your degree throughout the rest of your career.

“I think about and reference everything I learned about pattern cutting, colours, materials, and so on every day while designing and working with clients.

“Even if you don’t go into an industry or role that is directly related to your subject, there will be things you experience and learn during your time at DMU that you will draw upon.

“Take every opportunity to continue your education in the real world and finally, always walk with confidence, even if you don’t feel like you have it!”

Posted on Wednesday 27 March 2024

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