Aminah Abdul-Jillil found fame as a professional dancer for superstars like Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, starring in Cirque du Soleil's BELIEVE and filming commercials for Pepsi, Mazda and New Balance.
But now there's another type of fancy footwork that she wants to be known for.
The Alaska native has just launched the Aminah collection, a line of sleek leather sandals for women.
We caught up with Abdul-Jillil to find out what prompted her to hang up the dancing shoes (at least for right now) to create her collection, the inspiration behind her stylish designs and how she may have created Rihanna's new favorite pair of sandals.
You are such an accomplished dancer, what made you want to shift gears to fashion design?
"I've always been interested in doing something in fashion, even when I was in between touring. During my downtime I would take fashion courses. I needed a creative outlet so I started working on my design ideas."
Why shoe design?
"I took color, drawing and sewing classes--I didn't at all think I was going to do anything with shoes. I thought for sure I would do something in apparel--but I just got inspired by shoes one day."
There is a refreshing simplicity to your sandal designs--were they inspired by your life as a dancer?
"I'm constantly in heels and sometimes I work 8 to 10 shows a week, so just having a flat shoe is a comfort. There's little to nothing restricting your feet. But ultimately, they are a comfortable and stylish alternative to the basic flip-flop."
Tell us about all the cool detailing on the sandals.
"I love 80's fashion--with the wrist junk and all the bracelets. So, that's where I got the idea for embellishing my designs. I wanted to move all the accessories to the foot."
Does Britney Spears have a pair?
"Britney definitely has a pair and one of Rihanna's assistants requested a pair of the coin embellished style for her new video--so we sent those over to her and all her dancers. I'm really excited about that."
What's next for the collection?
"I don't wanna just stick with shoes because I have other interests. So, for the fall I've started to work on some jacket and dress ideas. There's no rhyme of reason to focusing on those two items next--it's just what I enjoy."
Check out the full Aminah collection in the slideshow below. What do you think--are you itching for a pair?
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