Megan Papay and Cristina Paloma-Nelson first met at work, where their employer produced handmade shoes in Italy. Realizing they had a shared vision of the type of shoes they wanted to design, the pair created FREDA SALVADOR. Launched in 2012, the duo’s mission was “to provide badass shoes for the cool, urban girl to pound the pavement in every day.” The shoes quickly became a local favorite and also began flying off the shelves all over.
Success always brings changes and the team realized they were outgrowing their first design studio in San Francisco’s Union Square. Despite being located off the street by over ten steps, shoe aficionados quickly flocked to the small retail section in the front of the space, overwhelming the founders’ ability to work. So, the team headed across the Golden Gate to Sausalito.
How does the office’s design reflect FREDA SALVADOR?
Our current design studio is located in a marina in Sausalito. It was a ship-building warehouse, so it’s very lofty but deconstructed. We designed the space to have a balanced combination of tough/inviting, masculine/feminine touches. We feel like our shoes have the same vibe; tough on the outside, but so forgiving and nice inside. Our design aesthetic is to mix more industrial pieces, like a WWII stainless steel wardrobe (where we store our leather swatches) with an overly plush shag rug and comfy sofa. We lean towards furniture with a story, so we often scour vintage, antique or consignment stores. We have a ton of leather hides, old wooden shoe lasts, piles of magazines, walls of inspiration and design boards, and of course shelves full of shoe samples!
Sausalito isn’t really know for it’s industrial look, but it must be an inspiring place to work. What is your favorite thing about being located there?
The proximity to Schoonmaker Beach… our door is about 50 yards from the water. Although we don’t get out there as often as we like, just seeing the water and palm trees, hearing the boats and birds, and smelling the salt in the air is so relaxing. It’s about the least stressful place on the planet, so to work there certainly helps keep us grounded.
Not only do you have a new office, but you’ve also moved your showroom elsewhere in San Francisco?
Our brand was so young when we opened that space, so we were still testing the waters to see if we could justify having a stand alone retail store. That location was pretty magical and it quickly became a destination shop for people. Then the opportunity to move to Fillmore Street presented itself. Because we were confident in our brand, we decided to make the leap. Now we are street level in a great neighborhood. We get a lot of women discovering the brand for the first time by simply walking by. We love it there! It is definitely our home.
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