The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Shoe designer Sophia Webster says the struggle makes you strong

  • Sophia Webster (36), a Londoner, started her shoe line in 2012.
  • Mother-of-three says she owes so much to her resilient grandmother Ruth 
  • Grandma Ruth lost her family members when the Nazis invaded. 

Sophia Webster (36), launched her footwear brand in 2012. She has gained a lot of support from Taylor Swift, Sarah Jessica Parker and Oprah Winfrey. She lives in London with husband and business partner Bobby, and their three daughters — a seven-year-old and three-year-old twins.

My Grandma Ruth is the reason I have so many responsibilities. As a child, she sent me tiny notes and postcards about shoes featuring a butterfly sticker.

My bestselling shoe, the Chiara sandal features butterflies on its back. The Chiara sandal was created in collaboration with Butterfly Conservation Charity to raise money for endangered species.

The ability of butterflies to evolve after a period of struggle reminds me of my Grandma’s own journey.

Sophia Webster, 36, (pictured) who lives in London, revealed how her grandmother taught her to be resilient

Sophia Webster, 36, (pictured) who lives in London, revealed how her grandmother taught her to be resilient 

Jewish, she lived in Prague as a child with her parents till she was seven years old. Charles, Charles’ uncle in England, managed to find domestic work for her mother during the Nazi invasion of 1939. She never saw her father again.

My grandma, my grandmother, was placed with people in Forest Hill (South London), then Liverpool. She was baptized by her family to ensure her safety.

After the war, her mother and sister were reunited in South London. My grandfather was her husband and she got a teaching job. She had three children.

When she retired in her 60s, she did a Masters, exploring her Jewish roots, and worked as an educator for 15 years at London’s Imperial War Museum. The museum’s new Holocaust Galleries were opened last month, partly thanks to donations from my footwear business.

Her son and father were attacked in 2017 by an unknown person. He remains in hospital after suffering a severe brain injury. Grandma Ruth was close to her husband, and they used to call each other every day before the attack. They also did the crossword together. She died in 2019. They never saw each other again. In 2019, she died.

Grandma Ruth was a strong example of resilience. It is a great way to find your strength when you have a strong figure in your life.

The Imperial War Museum’s new Holocaust Galleries are now open.