Kim Fox came across a pair of velvet shoes in Venice, Italy, which gave her the idea for her company, Fifi Venezia. Now the shoes are sold at A’maree’s in Newport Beach as well as online. Customers can choose from a variety of colors—the most popular are maroon, navy, and black—and can have the shoes monogrammed. This holiday season, look out for a pair in vibrant red.
How did you start Fifi Venezia?
I have a friend who lived in Venice, Italy, and I used to visit her periodically. They have these wonderful shoes that she introduced me to. I researched them and found out their cool history; they’re post-World War I and (the soles were made with) bicycle tires from the war bikes, and they would hand stitch the fabric to make an actual shoe. Over the years, they have of course perfected it, and they’re still handmade. I just really like the whole look, the feel, the style; and in Europe they’re basically a house shoe. I had met my manufacturers, and they were darling and had a store at the Rialto. I put together a 200-shoe order and talked to them about exclusive rights in the United States. My grandmother was a world traveler and just super chic. I decided to name the company after her.
How did you partner with Lynn Pyle?
Being who I am, I always like doing something with someone else to bounce ideas off of and kind of have a partner going through this. I sat with one of my dear friends from college and said, “You’re doing this with me.” She had been a sales rep for the leather goods for Ralph Lauren, so she had a great merchandising background. She’s more the visual, and I’m more the people person.
What styles do you offer?
We basically have two styles that come from Italy, and it’s the shoe version, the Gritti, and the slide, the Canal. About two years ago, we thought the Adidas (slide) was so popular. We talked to Italy about making them, and they didn’t want to. So then we came out with our little sport line (made in Mexico) that we call Fifi Sport. It really took off with younger people because they retail for $55 instead of $270. We started with three colors; they’re the black rubber shoe and then they have the velvet strap that goes across.
Do you run into people wearing your shoes in public?
I was at a wedding in Miami, and I had this beautiful Christian Dior dress on with heels. I basically couldn’t walk so I went up to my hotel room, grabbed my black velvet Fifis, put them on, and I looked around the wedding and there were four other people doing the same thing. It was great.
Tell us about your work with Bringing Change to Mind.
We’ve done different things for Bringing Change to Mind, which is our philanthropic charity that we work with. It’s (focused on) getting the word out about making mental illness something you can talk about. So we worked with Glenn Close, who founded it, and Oprah Winfrey. We’ve gone to events in New York and (sold) our shoes, and some of the proceeds go to that.