Who: Shoe designer Monica Favela George, who launched Gigi Favela in 2007. A formal proposal writer for engineering firms, George loved shoes so much that she'd sometimes go to DSW during her lunch break.
Where: Online at Endless.com or Shop.GigiFavela.com and in local stores at The Little Shoe Box in Bethesda and Treat in Alexandria.
If the shoe fits: George took classes in sculpting and color theory before starting her business, but she still needed to learn how to create a shoe. Where did she turn for help? ShoeSchool.com, of course. “It’s a week-long intensive workshop on the basics of shoe design,” she says. “They also have business and industry experience in the shoe arena so they were able to give me advice on how to go about getting my shoes manufactured.” Once she got the shoe-design part down, she focused on the business aspect of her company and worked to get her shoes into local boutiques.
Cute and comfy: An important aspect of George’s designs is the comfort of the shoe. She describes her shoes as highly wearable, with anti-shock padding material for the ball of the foot because the majority of the shoes have heels. She also says they’re fashion forward, but that doesn’t mean they’re over the top: “They’re not so fashion forward that they’re one-season shoes. When a woman buys a pair of Gigi Favela’s, I hope she’ll wear them for at least three years, so you’re not going to see a crazy five-inch platform from me.”
Up next: George’s shoes have been featured in Lucky and InStyle magazines. What’s next for the designer? “I’d like to do a collaboration with a brand that’s bigger than I am so I can get my designs into more stores,” George says. She’s also thinking about launching a second line at lower prices (the shoes can cost anywhere from $95 to $795) to appeal to more women. “I’m glad that women here are starting to embrace fashion more,” she says. “I think we have a style that’s definitely more understated than New York or other major cities, but there’s definitely style here in DC.”
Place to shop for clothes: Mercedes Bien Vintage in DC’s Adams Morgan and Treat in Old Town Alexandria.
Place to shop for shoes: “My basement—that’s where I keep all of them!” she says with a laugh. She also goes to Hu’s Shoes in Georgetown and The Little Shoe Box in Bethesda.
Restaurant: The Pita House and Farrah Olivia, both in Alexandria.
Favorite place in DC: Georgetown.