Who else loves small world stories? I am fascinated by them, as it makes me realize just how the universe aligns our lives! When my son started kindergarten, I met a lovely mother who had three daughters in the same school, her youngest daughter being in my oldest son's class. We didn't interact much at that time, outside of seeing each other at school and sporting events. Throughout the eight years at the small Catholic grade school in St. Louis, MO, we developed a fondness and a respect for each other, but differences in our other children's ages, and our personal lives/careers never gave us a real opportunity to foster a close friendship.
Fast forward from 2008, and Susan Rollins is someone whom I now consider a very dear friend. During the past 20 years, I have had the pleasure of admiring Susan as a single mother, a working professional and an advocate for women. Imagine my excitement when she stepped out of her comfort zone (thanks to her three daughters encouragement) to model for Walking Cradles! Not only has she been a wonderful spokesperson for us, she has set a great example for, and calmed the nerves of other customers who we have invited to model for our real women advertising and marketing campaigns.
Susan at a photoshoot in 2016 (modeling a shoe that is no longer available).
Always active, always on the go, and always willing to try new things, Susan is someone I strive to be more like. She somehow manages to juggle many things at once, while making them all seem easy. Now, early into her new phase of retirement life, Susan isn't slowing down a bit! I had the chance to catch up with her for an interview and a quick photoshoot - right before she jaunted out of town on her latest adventure.
YOU RECENTLY (SEMI) RETIRED. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER AND WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW.
I retired at the end of 2020 during the Covid pandemic! I liken my retirement to the end of a zoom where you click end meeting! Covid has changed the ways we say hello and goodbye. I’ve had an amazing career - or I should say careers! I’ve been a chameleon working in the corporate, education, and public service arenas. The last thirteen years I’ve served as executive director of the Housing Authority of St. Louis County. All of my work has a theme and that is working for others. As a boss, I’ve worked to help employees reach their goals within the organization, and if staying wasn’t getting them to their goals, mentor them out of the organization and into another position elsewhere that would be more beneficial. Throughout my career I have paid attention to the way women and women of color are treated and have worked very hard to make sure that on my watch they are given every opportunity to thrive. As a leader of a housing authority I have always put the people we served first. I am proud to have known and still remember the faces and the names and the stories of the families we served.
Since the end of 2020, I am learning how to live again. How to create a new balance for my life. My caring for the community and particularly for housing authority families has lead me to starting my own consulting firm: Bird’s Eye View Consulting. I’m currently consulting for Nan McKay & Associates, offering technical assistance to housing authorities throughout the country. I’m also working on a few local projects in the area of affordable housing. I’m sixth months into my new beginning, still learning and enjoying the new path!
YOU WERE ONE OF OUR ORIGINAL “REAL WOMEN” MODELS AND I LOVE THE STORY OF YOU FINDING YOUR PERFECT SIZE. PLEASE SHARE THE STORY WITH OUR READERS.
To this day I can’t believe that I was one of the first models for Walking Cradles, but when Lisa says you can do it, you do it! I don’t consider my feet to be one of my greatest assets. I have bunions! And I’m sure they are a result of years of not wearing the right size shoe. When I visited Walking Cradles before a photo shoot, they measured my foot like I was a little girl! I knew I was an 8.5 medium! Well I was wrong! I am an 8 wide! And when I tried on that 8 wide, my foot fit perfectly into the shoe and for the first time I didn’t feel squished, and the Tiny Pillows made me feel as if I was walking on marshmallows. How wonderful to not only love the style but love having the shoe on my foot. I was sold, and Walking Cradles has styles that take you from the boardroom to the beach and everything in between.
A Walking Cradles post-photoshoot group photo from 2017
(Susan is bottom, right).
WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE BEST BENEFIT OF WEARING WALKING CRADLES SHOES?
They are so comfortable! We often equate comfort with boring styles but that is not the case with Walking Cradles shoes! Jamie designs cutting edge shoes that are very chic and so comfortable. I can’t imagine wearing my 8.5 mediums all day but I wear my 8 wide Walking Cradles all day and the Tiny Pillows construction keeps my feet happy all day!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR HOBBIES AND INTERESTS AND HOW YOUR CHOICE OF FOOTWEAR COMES INTO PLAY WITH ANY OF THEM.
I love being active! I try to do everything to keep my body in the best shape I can. I cycle and have participated in Bike the Boroughs (a 50 mile ride through the five boroughs of New York City) twice. Cycling is where I find peace with the air in my face. Cycling immediately calms me down. The Audio is a comfortable form fitting athletic shoe, that can take you for a spin around the track and a spin around town on your bike! It’s two hook and loop fastener system allows you to get a perfect fit!
Susan loves wearing the Audio atheisure sneaker while cycling.
I’m also an avid gardener. It is another place where I find peace. My Orleans slip-ons work well for gardening. The Orleans is just a perfect casual sneaker! I owned a black pair and wore them a million steps! Now I have another pair for gardening, a casual night out on the town, or lunch with my daughters! And how can you not love walking in shoes that feel like little pillows!
For gardening, Susan chooses the airy Orleans Metro Sneaker
in Lt. Taupe Perfed Nubuck.
I also dance. I started taking Latin dance lessons a few years ago. It’s wonderful exercise and I’ve met some great people on the dance floor. My favorite for dancing is the Caliente!
Susan breaking out her salsa dance moves, wearing the Caliente in Black Micro.
My daughters Alison, Chandler and Ava are all avid readers and my oldest (Alison) is an award winning poet, so the girls and I have started a book club. It started during 2020 as a way to combat the isolation of Covid. Reading is done under a blanket with bare feet!
"Library of Small Catastrophes" by Alison C. Rollins (Susan's oldest daughter).
Susan and her youngest daughter, Ava, modeling for Walking Cradles Spring 2019.
WHAT IS A MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE?
2020 has taught me to live, love and enjoy each day. And that is exactly what I am doing in 2021. Doing the things I love, exploring some new options and keeping my mind busy continuing to help families in and outside of my community. I’ve learned that I can do most anything from anywhere so I can spend a month or two or three away from home and still stay in touch! So don’t put off anything! Get out there and make it happen!
We are very grateful to our dear friend, Susan for being part of “Shoes for All Walks of Life.” We wish her all the best in her new chapter of life, which I call "Active Retirement."
Thank you for joining us to learn more about the women who wear Walking Cradles and their multi-faceted lives. We will feature a different fabulous female each month and we hope you look forward to reading their stories as much as we enjoy working with them. Although, is it really work when you love what you do so much and get to spend time with such amazing people?!
Until next time...
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