Artemis Design Co. Makes One-Of-A-Kind Shoes

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A quality outfit is a hard thing to master – take it from me. After years of dressing myself semi-capably, I’m still trying to nail down a regular ensemble that properly communicates my aesthetic. Your outfit tells people quite a bit about your personality, and mastering a stylish fit is like developing a fundamental and holistic sense of self. 

I’m drawn to garments that feel comfortable, yet still offer something unique or interesting. That’s why Artemis Design Co.’s shoes caught my eye. Scroll through Artemis’ Instagram feed and you’ll be immediately swept away by wildly colorful loafers and slippers. Made from recycled Turkish rugs, Artemis’ vibrant and intricate products make you feel something. Call them complex, busy, or crazy – but you can’t call them boring.

I find warmth and a sense of history when gazing into these surreal shoes, which cost about $250 for a pair of slippers and $268 for loafers. Modern footwear trends tend to favor big and loud designs, but they’re often cold, white or grey blobs with no sense of personality. Few offer that sensation of coziness like the well-worn Artemis loafers. I sat down with Artemis Design Co.’s founder Milicent Armstrong over a Zoom session to learn more about her warm and innovative brand – read on to discover how she began turning beautiful rugs into statement-making shoes.   

It All Started In Istanbul

Artemis loafers at the workshop in Istanbul
Credit: Artemis Design Co.

Armstrong launched Artemis Design Co. in early 2013 after a trip to Istanbul in college. But, her love-affair with Turkish textiles, carpets, and rugs began much earlier. While on a semester at sea, her group stopped in the Turkish port city. “I completely fell in love with the city,” shares Armstrong. “It was one of my favorite places. I remember the textiles were just so incredible – all carpets and kilims.”

A few years later, she returned with her mother and brought back a carpet bag and a pair of carpet shoes. These intricate patterns are steeped in history. Armstrong was drawn in by the warmth and color of the kilims, which are traditional Turkish rugs, but wanted to bring them to a new audience.  

After going to school for interior design, Armstrong made her way back to Turkey with a mission: to redesign the carpet shoe for the modern person. “I had seen these sorts of products in the Bazaar in Turkey but they weren’t designed like high-end shoes, in terms of the trims and the shape,” she shares. “I wanted to find somebody who could make these products and make my own designs. And I did! I really started with three products: basic women's flats, men's loafers, and a small bag.”

Armstrong had a clear vision and quality products handmade in Turkey but she knew finding the right market in the US could be a challenge. She jumped in headfirst: “I had like $5,000 in savings and I spent all of it on this first round of inventory, which felt very, very risky at the time,” Armstrong shares.

Belts, wallets, and bags, oh my! Credit: Artemis Design Co.

She started small with trunk shows and garnered a passionate following. Word of mouth got Artemis growing until it eventually reached renowned retailer Steven Alan. “He picked up on the product,” says Armstrong. “He really loved them. And he actually gave me an order, when I was only three months into the company.” 

No Two Shoes Are Alike

While Artemis Design Co. has been around for nearly 10 years, the brand continues to gain followers and customers who fall in love with the product. Steven Alan may have been the first major retailer to discover these stylish shoes, but since then many brands including Rowing Blazers and Madewell have stocked small batches of Artemis loafers. 

Steven Alan may have been the first major retailer to discover these stylish shoes, but since then many brands including Rowing Blazers and Madewell have stocked small batches of Artemis loafers. 
Each pair of Artemis shoes is unique
Credit: Artemis Design Co.

“Early on, I remember [Steven Alan] saying, they're just so unique,” recalls Armstrong. “It's just not something you see everyday. They're all one of a kind. All of our kilim shoes are completely one of a kind. They're these beautiful pieces of artwork in themselves. No one else in the world is going to have that same pair of shoes, which is completely unheard of in the current fashion industry.”

Limited-edition, artistic, one-of-one pieces of clothing exist. But, any true artistry tends to be drowned out by hype and collector culture. Instead, Artemis has quietly crafted artful shoes, bags, and accessories that are accessible and offer something completely unique.

As Comfortable As Your Favorite Carpet

Artemis Sample Sale Loafers
Credit: Artemis Design Co.

As a statement piece, they completely stand-out. For men, they’re often reserved for special occasions. Scroll through Artemis Design Co.’s Instagram page and you’ll find grooms outfitted in handsome tuxes and suits, but your eyes are immediately drawn to that splash of Turkish color. 

Artemis adds a touch of color when paired with a tuxedo
Credit: Artemis Design Co.
Imagine that sensation of digging your feet into a well-worn carpet. The warmth, rugged yet cozy texture. That’s where every pair of Artemis shoes starts.

But thanks to the brand’s simple, fitted construction, Artemis loafers fit just as well as everyday shoes: “You could be in them all day, walk in them all day,” shares Armstrong. “They're almost like leather shoes and that they really mold to the wearer’s foot. So they are very, very comfortable, very practical shoes to just wear all the time.”

Imagine that sensation of digging your feet into a well-worn carpet. The warmth, rugged yet cozy texture. That’s where every pair of Artemis shoes starts.

“It's just something that the Turks have been doing for a long time because carpet is just so incredibly plentiful over there,” Armstrong notes. “So a carpet in someone's home gets a stain or a tear or it just gets really worn down in a particular area. You don't want to throw away the whole carpet. What we do is we take the pieces that are good, we cut around the stained parts, and create something new.”

While style and a charming design are top of mind for Armstrong and her small team, it’s more important that Artemis makes a wearable pair of shoes. “We don't ever want to create anything that's not comfortable,” Armstrong says, “Everything is all about comfort.” 

5 More Reasons To Love Artemis Design Co.:

1. Your pair of Artemis shoes should last you for years to come. Caring for them is relatively simple, just avoid heavy rain or snow. If you have any tears within a year, Artemis will repair them at no cost. 

2. In addition to unique and comfortable shoes, Artemis Design Co. sells home goods and accessories like coasters, travel bags, wallets, and more 

3. Artemis occasionally runs sample sales on products with slight imperfections so you can get a serious discount on a new pair of shoes.

4. Artemis also launched its iconic loafers and slippers in children’s sizes so you can get a pair of cozy shoes for your kids.

5. Not a huge fan of the crazy patterns of kilim rugs? Artemis has already released some plain loafers and is actively working on ways to create “basics” that still offer the same whimsy, comfort, and texture of the Artemis shoes.

Step into something a bit more interesting with Artemis.

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