Hey, St. Paul—there’s a new shoe shop in town. Leo Footwear, cofounded by business owners and close friends Jill Erickson (of Spoils of Wear) and Kristie Case (Teeny Bee Boutique and Peregrine Kidswear) opens Friday in the Selby and Snelling neighborhood.
“We would go to market together pre-COVID, and we’d look at shoes together. But there’s not a huge place for most shoes in our stores,” Erickson says. “We were thinking, gosh, we wish there was somewhere in our neighborhood to buy shoes.”
In January, a space just down the block from both of their stores opened up, and the dynamic duo made the leap.
“It’s full of shoes that make us happy,” Erickson says of the shop. “It’s been a total joy to buy for. It’s fun to bring another quality and aesthetic into the neighborhood.”
Offerings include small-batch sandals made in Greece, handmade leather-and-wood mules, artisan-crafted oxford booties, and more—plus a selection of accessories, like sunglasses, socks, and statement shoelaces.
“We wanted to stock comfortable shoes that are inspiring—shoes you’d build an outfit around,” says Case.
The store’s glam vibe hits the inspiration note, too—a wall of antique mirrors is sure to be St. Paul’s new selfie spot, and vintage theater seats from the Orpheum add a touch of character to the otherwise light-and-bright space. And while Case and Erickson already have ecommerce up and running, they hope people primarily shop their selections in-store.
“We’re looking for the antidote to online shopping,” Case says. “We’re looking to create something where you could come in and see a pair of shoes you’ve never seen before, that you couldn’t find on Amazon or Macy’s—that you wouldn’t even know to look for.”
If anyone is up to the task of curating a completely unique—but still accessible—selection, it’s these business besties, who are part of the Selby and Snelling sisterhood we profiled pre-pandemic. The Leos (of course they’re both Leos; born just 11 days apart) met around a decade ago, working at Evereve (back when it was called Hot Mama). “Kristie taught me how to merchandise,” Erickson says. “When she opened Teeny Bee [eight years ago], I was her first employee.”
They always considered each other their unofficial business partner—so it was only a matter of time it became official. Hey, if the shoe fits—buy a lot of shoes, right?