How Bronwyn Designer Sarah Street Is Redefining Modern Footwear

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15 December 2023

Reading Time: 5 minutes

With a sharp eye for chic design, footwear designer Sarah Street is finding success with her minimalist brand, Bronwyn. Sarah tells Evelyn Ebrey about what she’s learned five seasons into her own business and how her Virgo perfectionism drives her forward.

In the fast-paced world of fashion, Sarah Street is making her mark as a talented designer and businesswoman, who is redefining modern footwear. The ethos behind her stylish brand Bronwyn is to create footwear that complements the multifaceted lives that women lead, something Sarah innately understands as a working mother.

Her focus with Bronwyn is on creating wardrobe staples that can be worn for seasons to come. Every style is designed to have a minimalist aesthetic paired with subtle, elevated detailing, and contemporary comfort. The result is meticulously hand-crafted footwear that is ethically made and effortlessly versatile, these are shoes you can wear every day, wherever life takes you.

Photo credit: Clara Pafundi

It was a long-held dream of Sarah’s to have her own footwear label and she named the brand after her late mother Bronwyn, who has been one of Sarah’s biggest inspirations in life. It feels fitting that Sarah’s love for her mother underpins her business journey, which required finding the courage within herself to take the leap of faith and turn her dream into reality.

Sarah Street’s journey to date is a testament to the power of perseverance and a deep passion for design. Having worked as the head designer at beloved footwear brands Mi Piaci and Overland Footwear, Sarah honed her footwear expertise over 12 years in both New Zealand and the UK before launching Bronwyn in 2021.

Now five collections into the brand, Bronwyn is going from strength to strength. The business recently marked a significant milestone by opening its first store on Auckland’s popular Ponsonby Road. 


Photo credit: Clara Pafundi

“We had an unexpected opportunity for a mid-term lease, which is until February 2024, so a perfect length of time for us to ‘test the waters’ of a retail space to see if it is worth investigating further,” says Sarah Street. “It’s such an exciting opportunity for the brand, and so incredible to meet all our lovely customers in real life. I’m enjoying having the full collection on display and interacting with shoppers. It’s also a great opportunity to view how styles fit on different feet, what styles customers gravitate towards and why, and to get some important insights from the beautiful people who wear Bronwyn.”

This direct interaction enriches the brand’s relationship with its customers and informs the two ranges that make up Bronwyn’s current offering. The capsule collection features limited edition styles in key seasonal hues, while the foundation collection consists of timeless, neutral-coloured pieces with a minimalistic aesthetic and chic details.

Bronwyn’s fifth collection reflects Sarah Street’s evolution as a designer and a deeper understanding of the Bronwyn customer’s preferences. This latest range embodies shoes that are equally coveted and curated, pushing the boundaries of proportion and silhouette while incorporating small, thoughtful touches that elevate each design.

While it’s always hard to choose her favourites from each collection, Sarah has an enduring love for the foundation style, Cas, and the Billie flatforms. She is also excited about the Otto and Dillon styles from drop one of season five, and the Tobi and Winona from drop two which are sure to be popular with the brand’s customers.


Photo credit: Clara Pafundi

Bronwyn’s collections are currently sold online and in the new store, and Sarah has also engaged with wholesaling, which can be a strategic way to grow the brand and reach new customers. The retail market is heavily influenced by consumer behaviours and market trends so there are some things that small businesses must be aware of when wholesaling to stockists. Aligning with the traditional retail calendar is key as the consumer market is driven by peak delivery and peak sale periods. Getting the timing of collections right means a brand can optimise sales and having a point of difference is also important. 

“From a trend and collection perspective, customers are increasingly engaging with brands that chart their own unique paths. They seek brands that celebrate and connect with their customers, aligning with their values and preferences. This trend aligns perfectly with Bronwyn’s philosophy of crafting timeless, sustainable footwear,” adds Sarah.

Balancing creativity and the demands of running a business is a perpetual challenge for Sarah, like many small business owners. While the creative aspect comes naturally to her, it sometimes has to take a backseat due to the necessity of attending to operations. The business and marketing side involves a continuous learning process while budgeting, forecasting, making content, and defining the brand’s identity are vital components that keep her on her toes. Each day brings a unique set of challenges, making the journey as a small business owner both thrilling and demanding.

To manage the myriad tasks, Sarah relies on making lists in her diary before bedtime, a simple but effective strategy that helps her stay organised. She also seeks advice from friends and peers in the industry, recognising the value of collaboration and shared wisdom.


Photo credit: Clara Pafundi

Sarah Street’s background in industrial design laid the foundation for her deep love for shoes. Footwear design is a harmonious blend of form and function, making it a challenging yet rewarding discipline. Shoes must not only look great but also provide comfort and support while enduring the constant impact of daily life. A well-designed shoe can transform an outfit and punctuate personal style, creating a statement with every step. Sarah relishes the feedback from her customers, humbled by their willingness to invest in the pieces she creates.

When asked what defines success for her, Sarah admits that her idea of success continues to evolve as her business journey does.

“As a textbook Virgo perfectionist, I find acknowledging success quite challenging as I often view things through a lens of criticism, but I’ve been trying to allow myself more time to focus on the wins, because at times it feels like it is few and far between when you’re starting a small business. As success is receiving feedback from customers who love the brand, or a particular product. When a product sells out it’s a pretty incredible feeling too. I also think as a designer, seeing your pieces out in the world on real people is just one of the most beautiful things you can ever experience.”

She maintains a positive attitude when faced with challenges or setbacks. Sarah views those experiences as an opportunity for growth and learning. She allows herself a few moments to feel the frustration, then shifts into problem-solving mode and takes action. She emphasises the importance of adaptability and a consumer-centric mindset. She believes it’s essential to be adaptable as consumers and trends are constantly evolving, so market research and having a curious mindset is key to overcoming challenges. 

As a working mother, daughter, partner, friend and designer, Sarah Street, like many of us, wears many hats. It’s a busy life but she is grateful for the opportunities that have come her way and to have built a life that makes her heart full.

“My biggest achievement will forever be my two boys, Vinnie and Cas. They bring me the greatest feeling of love and pride I have ever experienced. They make this very hard journey absolutely worth it. I love that I get to honour my Mum every day through Bronwyn, and I’m so grateful each day to be doing something that I am incredibly passionate about.”

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