“If the shoe fits, wear it!” say the two sisters behind Two Sole Sisters, an eclectic shoe and accessories boutique on Pearl Street’s east end.
By Carol Brock
Photos by AliveStudios.com
Step inside Two Sole Sisters and you’ll enter a glittering, dazzling shoe palace where you might discover your own version of Dorothy’s ruby shoes or Cinderella’s glass slipper. Those shoes magically transformed their owners’ lives, and Two Sole Sisters is pretty confident its footwear will transform your life, too.
“Shoes are the one thing that — no matter what size a woman is or how she feels about her body — make her feel great,” says co-owner Laurel Tate, one of the sisters behind Two Sole Sisters, the other being Tate’s sibling, Lindsey Yocum.
Well, perhaps not any old shoe. Two Sole Sisters’ shoes are fashion statements with artisan details created by master craftsmen. You’ll find brands from Italy, Spain, Japan, Turkey, Australia, Portugal and other countries, all artfully displayed in silver frames and reflected in floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
The sisters source their shoes with a keen eye toward fashion, functionality and uniqueness. “We like to work with small artisan brands,” says Tate, who sometimes receives photos of shoes from clients. “It’s usually when they recognize a brand that they bought here and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! I saw this shoe when I was in Paris!’”
Tate’s personal favorite is La Bottega di Lisa from Le Marche, Italy. “It’s a wonderful family-owned business and we were their first U. S. customer.” The brand’s name translates to “Lisa’s Workshop.” “They named their company after a daughter who passed away, so every shoe they make is in her honor, her memory,” Tate says. “The shoes are really special, and there aren’t many shoes being made in the craftsmanship artisan way that they do.”
Lest you equate “craftsmanship artisan” with pricey — and yes, some Two Sole Sisters’ shoes are pricey — Tate says, “We have all price points, so it’s really for anyone.”
Shoes are the main merchandise, but not the only offering. The boutique also sells exceptional handbags, jewelry and accessories — again, sourced from worldwide artisans. You’ll find Marcia Moran jewelry from Brazil and gloves from American accessory designer Carolina Amato, among many others.
“But shoes are our number-one category,” says Tate, who admits to having a “shoe problem.” In fact, it’s why she and Yocum opened their store, which Tate says Yocum cleverly named. “I have always liked shoes. I have always had a shoe problem,” Tate declares, “Lindsey not as much as me.”
When Tate couldn’t find the fashionable shoes she desired locally, the sisters jumped in with both feet after Yocum called one day to say she was “officially unmanageable” and wanted to leave her computer industry job. “We put together a business plan, went to our first shoe convention in Las Vegas, signed the lease on our Pearl Street location on New Year’s Eve 2007 and opened in late March of 2008.”
Seventy-five percent of the store’s clientele are repeat customers, Tate estimates. No doubt due to the warm welcome and knowledgeable advice from the storeowners and seven salespeople. “We’re not the quintessential snooty boutique; we’re very accessible, warm and friendly,” she says. Even furry friends are welcome, and a door sticker proclaims “dog friendly.” An animal lover with multiple dogs, cats and a horse, Tate passes out pet treats, and knows all the names of her clients’ four-legged friends.
“The fact that we’re here now, 12 years later, I’m so proud to say that we’re part of this community,” Tate says.
But don’t ask her how many shoes she owns. “Oh my word! I can’t divulge that!” she laughs. “It’s more than I can count!”