Celebrating Women of African Descent

Dancing Designer

Lindsay Renea is a shoe designer and a professional concert dance artist. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Lindsay studied classical piano from the age of 5 and dance from middle school. She pursued a Dance Major Program at Howard University and graduated three years ago. Lindsay attributes the program for preparing her for the challenge of balancing her business and career. As a member of Garth Fagan Dance Company, Lindsay has graced many international stages. The full time performing artist also channels her unique creativity in designing unique and classy shoes, a business she mentions started from trying to complete an outfit for a post performance.

Read more about this ‘Dancing Designer’ in our Q&A:

Patricia Miswa: How often would you dance in a day/week and how do you prepare for a show?

Lindsay Renea: I dance at least eight hours a day, five sometimes seven days a week. I take two technique classes a day and have several hours of rehearsal every day. I don’t have a strict diet but I use moderation in my eating.

Patricia : Since you started, which has been your best performance?

Lindsay : I am not sure what my best performance has been but one of my most memorable performances was in April of this year when my eighty year old grandmother, and great aunt were in the audience along with 70 of their church members in Charlotte, North Carolina. Being able to dance and share my passion with the people I love is truly a blessing.

Patricia: What do people not know about the world of modern dancing? 

Lindsay : Modern Dance is a lifestyle, not just an activity. It takes a lot of preparation and focus to develop a product that is stage ready.

Patricia : What does it take to be a professional dancer?

Lindsay : To become a professional dancer it takes perseverance and focus. There are many days when you body tells you “no” and there are many days that you agree with it. However the ability to focus and push forward and overcome personal obstacles, both physical and emotional regardless of how you feel is part of what separates recreational activity and a career.

Patricia : Your shoe designing career started from trying to complete an outfit for a  post performance; can you tell us more about that time and how your first design turned out?

Lindsay : Almost two years ago my mother (Debor’ah Benton) took me to the mall while I was on vacation visiting in Ohio. Being in a dance company (Garth Fagan Dance) I have to attend lots of meet and greets, receptions, banquets, V.I.P dinners, toasts etc. Therefore having a closet that includes lots of cocktail and semi formal attire is a must. While at the mall we found a sale on semi formal dresses that was too good to pass. So mom and I cleaned up something serious. When I got home I realized I didn’t have any shoes to go with these dresses. Mom then handed me a catalog that she had at the house that had nothing in it but shoes. I liked a lot of what I saw but thought “I can make that.” That day or the next I went to a supply store and started experimenting. Thankfully my experiments turned out to be aesthetically pleasing.

Patricia : I think it’s  unique to be able to design your own shoes, what’s your experience in design?

Lindsay:  I have always been fond of making things with my hands. I definitely have to say that this passion has been guided and inspired by both my Father ( Lamarr Benton) and my grandmother (Juanita Gordon). My father is a visual artist so I believe it’s in my blood. Since I was little I always watched my father sketch, draw, paint, carve, and design all types of beautiful things.

I learned a lot about the acuteness of an artistic eye from him at a young age. For that I am thankful. My grandmother taught me how to sew. She would not let me even touch or turn on the sewing machine until I had done a base-stitch for every single seam that I was going to sew for the garment I was constructing. Because of this I can securely sew any garment by hand at record pace.

Patricia: How can you describe you designs and what makes them special or stand out?

Lindsay : I’m influenced by the organic movement of the human body naturally as a dancer, as well as the inspirations that can be found in the structure, patterns, and changes in nature. My father always took me to parks, and zoos, where I observed and developed my own thoughts about art and life. Art imitates life when it’s free to and life imitates art when there is no other choice. Every woman must have at least one pair of shoes that is a functional extension of their imagination without surrendering design. My shoes stand out because they fulfill that very purpose.

Patricia : What inspires you to design a specific type of shoe and How long does it take to design a pair?

Lindsay : My greatest creations are probably inspired by the individuals that I have in mind while designing. Many of my clients are people I have developed relationships with over time and while designing I bring those experiences to the drawing board. I also admire historical figures that I pull inspiration from including Queen Nefertiti, and Josephine Baker. Each design serves as testimony to some aspect of my life that I experienced and appreciated.

Patricia: What makes your shoe designs special?

Lindsay: I design each shoe based on the occasion, personality and preferences of my customers and the designs can’t be found anywhere else.

Patricia: Have you encountered any challenges since you started your shoe designing  business?

Lindsay: The biggest challenge I have had thus far is balancing these two careers that require a full-time commitment and long hours. I don’t sleep as much as I would like but I wouldn’t be able to sleep soundly knowing my goals have not been reached.

Patricia :  What next, do you plan on having a collection?

Lindsay: Eventually, I will expand my shoe collection and open my own boutique that sells Lindsay Renea shoes exclusively.

Check out more of Lindsay’s designs  on her Facebook page or website.

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  1. I am so proud of u lil sis and can not wait to rock LiLindsayRenea’s!


    • I would love to design some shoes for you, please send and email to

  3. I would like to see what type of shoe would you design or be inspired to design for a 51 year olf black woman who would want a beautiful dress shoe with a nice 2.5 heal (dress) for Church and/or dinner (semi-formal affair)! I am so proud to see another success story coming out of Youngstown OH! God Bless and in my prayers for continued succes!!

    • Thank you so much for you prayers! I have design shoes for my mother who is not quite 16 anymore (she will never disclose her age) but she too likes a lower heel. Please email so I can design something especially for you.

  4. You will LOVE my blog! Shoe-Diary.Blogspot.com !!


    –Diana Sands

  6. Hey big sis !! Im sooooo proud of you !! And you`re sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo pretty !!!! I love you more than you`ll ever know !

    Lol would you mind designing me a pair of shoes ??

    I Love You LinLin <3


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