How One Celebrity-Loved Shoe Designer Bounced Back From Lockdown

Flor de Maria is becoming a red carpet staple.

Flor de Maria Rivera talks winter shoe trends and bouncing back from lockdown to become a red carpet...
Flor de Maria Collection

Flor de Maria Rivera is constantly in production mode. It’s almost become second nature for the sports journalist turned shoemaker whose shoe designs have been worn by everybody from Saweetie to M.J. Rodriguez to Halle Bailey.

“We’re always dropping shoes,” Rivera tells Bustle of her namesake label Flor de Maria. “We do different drops every week or two weeks, and it’s worked great because people are going out more.”

With a newly-full social calendar, people are embracing holiday shoe trends like embellishment and animal print. Rivera offers both in her latest designs, but she’s also partial to a new sensation: winter brights.

“If I had to choose [a trend I’m most excited about], it would be our Amaya knee-high boots in cobalt blue,” she says.

Boots will be a center focus of the new launches, and Rivera went a little rogue this time around.

“It’s the first time I don’t have a mood board,” says Rivera. “I think it’s because we’ve been through a [lockdown], and it just made sense that I was inspired by everything: by nature, my walks, my house — just real life.”

Rivera envisions her new designs as a source of escapism for shoppers, who tired of wearing sweatpants and slippers during lockdown.

“After the last couple of years that we've had, I want to make sure the shoes we are launching for the holidays make everyone dream,” says Rivera. “When I was sketching this collection, I dreamed of a world full of fairies, lights, and crystals: a fairy tale we all want to be part of.”

Flor de Maria Collection

As a small business owner, Rivera experienced the challenges of lockdown firsthand. Global supply chain issues, brought on by a dip in labor force participation, directly impacted revenue. The cost of materials, she says, went up 30%. And shipping went up 40%.

“I knew we were in a [lockdown], so I saw it coming,” she says. “It’s affected everyone, especially small businesses because our budgets are not big. But if you plan ahead and prepare for those increased costs, you’ll be in a good place.”

Still, she’s hopeful about the future. “I’ve had a few people approach me to invest in Flor de Maria,” she says.

And she’s becoming a red carpet staple with a laundry list of celebrities who support the brand, though there are two more she’d love to see in her shoes soon. “Beyoncé and J.Lo. I love them both for everything that they are and have accomplished, and how they empower and inspire all of us.”

Rivera is also looking to expand into other accessories categories. “A handbag collection could be next. I also see collaborations in the future, and eventually a brick and mortar store.”

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