Shoes A Love Story

Shoes, glorious shoes. We love them. We love the way they smell, the way they look on our feet, and how they not only accessorize but make us look good! For many of us, the shoe is the main attraction in our outfits. A well-known fashion magazine says the average woman owns 19 pairs of shoes. Puhh-leeez! Many of us have at least twice as many and are still looking for that next beautiful pair. Think about the blue Louboutin shoe made famous by Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw and how that shoe was displayed in a “to-die-for” shoe closet and basically worshipped.

These days, all retailers pray for a good sales season. But shoe sales, online and brick-and-mortar stores, seem to do well despite these tough economic times. Grocery, housing, and automobile sales tend to trend downward or zig-zag up and down, but footwear sales continue to trend up—it’s a parallel universe because those of us who love shoes continue to buy despite the economy.

Why are shoes so seductive? What is the appeal? Why am I seemingly in a trance when I find that shoe?

Surely I am not the only one with this affinity towards espadrilles, kitten heels, stilettos, strappy sandals, flats, drivers, booties and wedges? So what’s the attraction?

Martin Lindstrom, a branding expert for Fortune 100 companies and the author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy says, “The neurotransmitter dopamine is released, providing a feel-good high, similar to taking drug,” when we try on any kind of apparel.

Well there we have it—“a feel good high” is the reason why we love to buy shoes. I am sure there is another famous study that validates the saying that my mama always said, “when you look good, you feel good.” And everyone wants to feel good, right?!

Assuming the motivation is to feel good about oneself, I figured I would speak to an expert, someone responsible for making the very thing that I love—kinda like finding the chef who just made the very best, delicious meal.
I tracked down (in my Adidas Ultraboost gym shoes, mind you) two ladies that design shoes! I wanted to know what makes them tick and what goes on in their minds when they design shoes:

Meet Tori Soudan, owner of a collection of shoes and store that bears her name, located at Tysons Galleria mall. She walked me through her process from conception to production, a time period of about 18 months—I hung onto every word.


She said, “I observe a lot. I take in things around me. A lot goes into the designs—things that I am passionate about and find visually attractive that causes some emotions from me.” Tori says that she takes in to mind textures, and wonders how a shoe would look in black and white photos, and considers the finish: matte, or sheen.

Of course she keeps in mind her audience, those most likely to want her shoes; she says these are “women who have embraced who they are, game changers, those who step out (literally) courageously.“

She obviously knows what she is doing—celebrities such as Carrie Underwood and Angela Bassett, are just a few that don Tori Soudans.

Tori credits her mother, as well as her grand- and great-grandmothers with instilling in her the passion to succeed—she paused and reflected when she answered my question about who inspired her, and said, “They had so little, yet achieved so much.”

Achievement is exactly a word to describe our second shoe designer Spenzena Jones. She is a corporate professional who is passionate about her craft. A full-time IT employee and single mom, Spenzena Jones, is a shoe designer with namesake shoes: Spenzena–Mustard Seed, and Fi-yah. Her name means dignity, worthy of honor and respect. Spenzena was led to designing shoes from her first job at a shoe store in Augusta, Georgia. She was trained in customer service and had to make sure each customer felt good about the shoe (this is a recurring theme in shoe purchasing, I see).

Spenzena says that she is inspired by her daughter, and her drive is fueled by creating a “pathway for her so she can take off and soar in life.” Th ose interested in shoes designed by Spenzena are those that are sophisticated, classy and sassy. Her goal is to create a boutique that will also serve sensational cupcakes!

The Spenzena shoes can be found at Studio Twenty8Fifty7 and various boutiques around northern Virginia and online.

Both of these designers’ shoes capture a certain je nas sais quoi and make me want to expand my shoe closet for just a few pair more. Like many of us, I want to continue “feeling good” about myself and know that shoes and other things can help make that happen. Knowing that Tori Soudan and Spenzena shoes come fueled by passion and love for family, will make my next “20th pair of shoes” (that’s the number I’m sticking to) purchased mean so much more than just a temporary euphoric feeling. Happy shopping!

BY CARA EVERETT
PHOTOS BY ASHLEIGH STERLING PHOTOGRAPHY & TORISOUDAN.COM