A Visit to the Freda Salvador Flagship Store
Many Bay Area babes know and love Freda Salvador, the San Francisco-based shoe company that designs effortless chic footwear. However, the brand has recently been gaining national attention, and they've now expanded their retail operations to a new location in Los Angeles. Freda Salvador is a brand that embodies everything I look for in an outstanding fashion brand. The owners/designers, Christina Palomo-Nelson and Megan Papay, are both moms who have hustled for years to grow the brand into what it is today. Plus, all the shoes are designed in Sausalito and hand crafted by a family factory in Spain. They're ethical, independent, and all around bad ass.
Since the owners are very busy these days, I instead interviewed Dallas, the store manager at the Fillmore Street flagship shop. As a boutique employee myself, I understand how important store managers are to the operations and experience at any retail location. The store is the perfect minimalist bohemian hideaway located on the chic Fillmore shopping street in Pacific Heights. After enjoying a delicious cold brew coffee and almond croissant from the original La Boulangerie on Pine Street, I spoke with Dallas about her experiences with the store, the shoes, and the recent growth of the brand.
How long have you been the manager of this location?
A little over a year.
When did the brand start, and when did the storefront open?
The company started in 2012, and wasn’t quite the brand it is now. It was more based on wholesale. The store has been in this location a little over a year now at this point, but we were down on Union and Octavia for a couple of years. We also just opened a store in Culver City. This is our flagship, but the new location is coming up on its one year anniversary.
What's your favorite part of working at a small company?
I guess I’ve always connected more with a smaller boutique setting as opposed to a corporate setting. Freda is really good about autonomy and owning your own position, which gives you the freedom and collaboration ability that I don’t really think you find at a large corporation. Everyone who works for the company is really great and supportive of each other.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the brand, and what do you love about the designs?
I love our shoes because they are wearable and comfortable, yet still very good looking and fashion forward. It’s a nice combination of some feminine and masculine qualities. They’re just so wearable, even our heel height is very wearable. (Picking a boot off the shelf) This 2 inch heel I can wear all day, even when I walk to work. The leather is great quality too, it’s mostly Italian and some Spanish. The owners wanted to create fashionable footwear that was both comfortable and wearable. In the fashion industry, comfort is sort of a scary word, but we’re embracing it. Our shoes are comfortable but they’re also chic and stylish and edgy, and they’re just ideal for every woman.
There's a lot of really great shops around here! Could you describe the Fillmore business community a little bit?
Fillmore is changing a little bit, and there’s larger companies coming in like Intermix and Rag and Bone, which I think is good and bad. There's great people that work there and they’re still good companies that are on-brand for us. Overall, it’s really supportive!
I was fortunate enough to visit during a Valentine's Day floral pop up by Natalie Bowen Designs, a local San Francisco florist. Dallas mentioned that the brand loves supporting local artists, and this is just one example of how they work towards that goal.
The brand has been growing a lot lately; what has that experience been like for your team?
We’ve grown A LOT since I started working here. Having celebrities wear our shoes is such great press for us. It’s really exciting and humbling for sure. For example, this style, the Keen, Gigi (Hadid) has worn this many times. It’s nice because celebrities get gifted many things all the time, but the fact that she actually wears these multiple times speaks really highly of the brand. So that’s really nice!
Hadid approved! The Keen Mule in Black Embossed Croc next to the same style in Silver Metallic Calf.
As a San Francisco based company, do you feel like there are any challenges or advantages to being in an area that isn’t as fashion–focused as Los Angeles or New York?
Yeah, I think one reason for opening the store in Los Angeles is to make connections down there. We are really known as a San Francisco brand, so opening the store there is really nice because it’s still on the West Coast and it’s important for us to be more known in other places. I think there are some challenges because San Francisco is a different kind of market from New York, or even Los Angeles. However, our shoes are designed for this area and this weather pretty well. They can really be worn day to night here, whereas in New York they might be seen as more casual.
Dallas' pick: The Ace Lace-Up Boot X Anndra Neen.
Many thanks to Dallas for speaking with me about her experiences with the brand! If you don't already know of Freda Salvador, definitely check them out online and follow/like them on Instagram and Facebook. If you're in the San Francisco or Los Angeles area, be sure to visit them at 2416 Fillmore Street (SF) or 8840 Washington Blvd #106 (LA). Finally, if you're a boutique geek like me, don't forget to follow along on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to know when I post.
What's my #1 Freda crush? Definitely the Keen Mule X Anndra Neen.