Fairydust Toes - shoe designs that look good enough to eat

Quirky designs by Fairydust Toes

Quirky designs by Fairydust Toes - Credit: Archant

Josephine McHugh’s has some tasty bespoke shoe designs writes Rebekka O’Grady

Josephine McHugh of Fairydust Toes

Josephine McHugh of Fairydust Toes - Credit: Archant

‘I’ve always been a bit quirky and different,’ smiled Josephine McHugh at her flat in Chester. ‘The shoes really are love and hate for people – I obviously love them! My mum on the other hand, hates them. She’s really creative like me and she thinks it’s amazingly artistic what I do but she can’t believe people actually want to buy them.’

It’s true; the fantastically bold shoes that Josephine creates are a work of art. She is the creative mind behind Fairydust Toes, a custom design shoe business where she lovingly handcrafts heels to resemble ice cream, sweets or your favourite cake.

‘It started out just as a hobby. I had seen something similar online and I thought I would have a go at making some shoes for myself. My first pair was a disaster. I had just gone out to a local craft store and bought the cheapest paint I could find and they didn’t last two minutes. I soon realised the price you pay for equipment really makes a massive difference.’

Josephine began experimenting with different designs, building up her skill set and making each shoe better than the last pair. She soon had the confidence to wear them on nights out, and that’s when friends and family began to encourage her to sell them online.

Josephine McHugh of Fairydust Toes

Josephine McHugh of Fairydust Toes - Credit: Archant

‘Within my first week of setting my store up on Esty, I had two orders. At that time, I was working as a singer on a cruise ship, so on my days off I would be sitting in my cabin creating the shoes. I would wear them around the ship and that generated a lot of interest from colleagues and holiday goers.’

Today, Josephine still makes the shoes in her spare time when she isn’t working as a singing teacher or running her children’s entertainment business, Fairydust Parties: ‘I have always been obsessed with fairies so I thought I would keep the name in the family! When the day comes that I sit down and dread making the shoes, that’s when I will stop doing it. At the moment I really enjoy it and I find it quite therapeutic to put on a film and paint.’

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On average one of Josephine’s designs, which retail at around £100, will take about two weeks to complete. From sourcing the correct shoe to waiting two to three days for each layer to dry, it takes patience.

‘The layers are quite thick, so it has to set properly before I can move onto the next step. The ice-cream cone shoes are the most popular but they take the longest to make due to the detail of the waffle cone.’

Josephine McHugh of Fairydust Toes

Josephine McHugh of Fairydust Toes - Credit: Archant

For Josephine, she enjoys the creative side of custom orders: ‘It’s exciting to explore new designs and techniques. Oreo shoes are now one of my most popular orders and they began as a request from one customer. I’ve also done a few this Christmas for a pantomime dame which was really fun. It’s always nice to see photographs of customers wearing them on a night out and to hear their feedback. You do feel special when you are wearing a pair.’

So what does the future hold for Fairydust Toes? As far as Josephine is concerned, the world is her oyster. ‘I have become friends with fellow shoemakers online and it’s a lovely community on Esty. You’re always inspired by what others are doing. I recently created a matching ice-cream handbag for a loyal customer; that’s something I would like to branch out into but as I am a perfectionist, I won’t start to sell them until I am 100% happy.’


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