Charleston Shoe Co. steps into La Jolla
Published - 07/01/19 - 07:23 AM | 2446 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Neely Woodson Powell
Neely Woodson Powell
Neely Woodson Powell founded the Charleston Shoe Co. in 2010. Her tagline for the shoe company is “From Cobblestones to Cocktails” because this comfortable lightweight shoe stays stylish from day to evening.

The La Jolla store recently opened in April on Girard Street. I asked Powell how she picked La Jolla and she said that she looks for charming places that are walking towns near the beach. When visiting the store, you will notice that the employees each wear two different shoes, which always attracts a lot of attention.

During her childhood, Powell spent her summers in central Mexico. In 1996, she met a cobbler who made simple sandals that she just loved. She took suitcases full of his shoes to the furniture markets where her mother worked at an import business.

The women working there at these trade shows were very excited to buy these comfortable shoes for their tired feet. From there, she began a wholesale business and worked for 10 years selling shoes alongside her mother’s business.

At the age of 29, she decided she wanted to design shoes and went to SCADS (Savannah College of Art & Design). Collaborating with a cobbler in Mexico, she started her own line of handmade shoes.

In 2010, she opened her first store in Savannah and named it Savannah Shoe Co. She found she had no money to advertise so she quickly hired an employee to help her. The next step was opening another store in Charleston that she called Charleston Shoe Co.

The next year, they began doing trunk shows from January to April, which increased their growth by 30 percent. She sold 27,000 pairs of shoes in two days at a trunk show and was soon a frequent visitor on the home shopping channel QVC.

This dynamo now has 27 stores with four more opening before July. She also does 130 trunk shows and 100 home parties each year.

The lowest point in her life was in 2015 when she had just married. She had no money in her bank account and her bookkeeper had absconded with $420,000 on her American Express card.

She decided to not give up and went on the road selling shoes and over a period of one year, she was able to bring the company back up and make payroll. In the end, American Express refunded all of the $420,000 but the lesson she learned was that she was too trusting.

If you have never tried on these shoes, you are in for a treat. They are handmade, machine washable, and are very travel friendly. If you would like to see these timeless shoes, visit this new store located at 7852 Girard Ave. It is open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.

Upcoming events

Saturday, June 29 — One Fashionable Eve Fashion Show at San Diego Innovation Center located at 7310 Miramar Road #500. Designs by Ugochi Iwuaba and other renowned designers. Live music and synchronized dance. For Tickets:

Friday and Saturday, July 26-27 — The 10th annual La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival (the Cannes of the fashion film world) at the newly created “The Conrad” Prebys Performing Arts Center located at 7600 Fay Ave. For more information, visit: www:

Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at
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