Banana Republic is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. And in keeping with the San Francisco based company‘s pioneering nature, we are exploring the inspirational stories behind three Bay Area entrepreneurs – each who have built their businesses with an innovative spirit and a focus on impeccable design. First up are the ladies behind one of our favorite artisan footwear labels FRĒDA SALVADOR.

Who is FRĒDA SALVADOR: FRĒDA SALVADOR was founded by us, Cristina Palomo Nelson and Megan Papay, in August of 2011. Our first collection debuted Fall 2012.  We met while designing for another Bay Area footwear company – we had awesome design chemistry so we decided we wanted to do our own thing.

fredasalvador14

fredasalvador10

fredasalvador6

Design duo: We worked together for a year before we started FRĒDA, so the partnership was really natural. We got to travel together a lot…our production and leather was sourced in Italy.  We became quick friends on these trips and realized we had similar dreams and goals.  Because our vision was so aligned and we were such great friends, we decided to start designing shoes that we love and believe in under our own label.

The design process: We design the entire collection together. We start by individually presenting ideas to each other – shoes that we want to see in the collection. We have personal mood and inspiration boards, tear sheets and renderings. As we discuss each design, we naturally merge our ideas. We both have very different personal style, so looking at one shoe from two different perspectives has been really helpful to maintain the vision of FRĒDA. Neither of us can take it too far one way or another. We feel this is a strength because our designs are interesting and understandable to wide range of women.

fredasalvador2

fredasalvador3

fredasalvador1

The inspiration behind the fall collection: The  music and fashion of the 70’s and 90’s . . . rocker glam and grunge. Think Janis Joplin in the 70’s and Kate Moss in the 90’s! We played around with removable hardware and studded welts to give our classic constructions a cool edge. True to the FRĒDA aesthetic, we played around with hair calf to create texture and color blocking. The lines of this collection are geometric and simple, which makes our shoes understandable and versatile.

fredasalvador4

fredasalvador13

Made in Spain:  Our shoes are made in Elda, Spain by a small family run factory. There are about 10 people that work in the factory and they are true artisans. They take such pride in their work and the quality is evident when you feel our shoes. The factory is about 60 minutes from Valencia, which is where we stay when we go there. The paella, seafood, meat, wine and cheese is ridiculous – we are beyond spoiled when we visit.

fredasalvador11

San Francisco by way of Sausalito:  We were looking for a ‘Pop Up’ store in San Francisco in early December of last year and found our current spot. We had no intention of opening a store so soon, but as soon as we we entered the space we hounded our landlord until she agreed it could be ours.  It was the perfect design studio, wholesale office, and retail in one.  It was one of those things that just made absolute sense so we went full steam ahead!

fredasalvador7

fredasalvador5

fredasalvador15

Proudest achievement: There have been two extra proud moments. The first was getting into Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop our first season . . . that is pretty hard to beat!  It gave us a lot of confidence that people believe in the brand. The second was opening our store on Union Street. The San Francisco community has been so supportive and welcoming, we truly feel blessed to live and work in such an amazing city. We are having a blast and love meeting our customers face to face. Their feedback is invaluable.

fredasalvador9

fredasalvador8

(Megan is on the left wearing a Banana Republic Houndstooth BlazerGo-To Denim ShirtJacquard Ankle PantsTextured Silk Tie, and Leopard Belt; shoes are FRĒDA SALVADOR Strut Oxfords. Cristina is on the right wearing a Banana Republic Dot & Stripe ShirtHeritage Coated Ankle Jean, and Link Necklace; shoes are FRĒDA SALVADOR Dream Ankle Boot. All photography by Kristen Loken)