INTERVIEW: SANTA VENETIA
I love shoes (more specifically clogs) and Santa Venetia is a new clog duo on the scene. Elevating the classic leather upper, they have redesigned with fully embroidered intricate patterns and cute color combos to boot. (Err... to clog?) Find out more about these two friends, Raquel Bedard and Gemma Greenhill, and how Santa Venetia was born. If you're dying to slide into a pair, stop by their pop-up on August 18th from 6:30-8:30 at Bouquet Mini Mart inside Wallflower. (1176 Valencia St, SF) Each style is custom made and takes about 4-5 weeks BUT there will be some samples of their current line available for purchase and to try on, as well as the debut of the upcoming SS19 line.
How did Santa Venetia get started and what are you backgrounds?
RB: Gemma and I both attended a mutual friends house for a Memorial Day cookout and found ourselves doting on our friend Laurel's vintage sandals. They had a very striking pattern that was a juxtaposition of angles and curves that was very inspiring to us. Over a few cocktails we dissected the sandal, and fantasized about our future as shoe designers.
GG: The sandals were so folk artsy and unique. We talked about cleaning them up, modernizing the fit and designing our own textiles for the uppers. The more we thought about it, the more we became excited about the potential of taking this found art, vintage inspiration and making it new and fresh.
RB: In the few days following the cookout, we decided, this shouldn't just be a fantasy, that we should take the time to make it a reality. We met during lunches and evenings to come up with plans to start Santa Venetia.
GG: I’ve worked in advertising for almost 10 years as a strategist but before that I went to school for fashion & textile design. I started my career working in fashion production & sales back in my native UK and Paris. Both sides of my experience - from the super left brained elements like planning, number crunching and managing vendors, to the right brained elements like brand building and actual product design - come together in a way I never thought they could in running SV.
RB: I've worked in interior design, cobbler shops, bars and production. I've retained the skills learned at each and strangely, they all lend themselves to owning Santa Venetia. I have an eye for design and creating a pleasing aesthetic. I obtain a comprehensive understanding of the working of shoes and how to physically work on them. I love to host people and throw a great pop-up party! Last but not least, I know how to pull off complicated productions all the while maintaining the creative vision.
How did you name your company/what does it mean?
RB: In the days following the cookout we were spitballing names over text. One idea was to try to tie our friends who hosted to the business name somehow. Santa Venetia, the name of the town they live in, emerged and it stuck. It was an immediate winner with us!
GG: It’s just so Californian and dreamy sounding, which as a Brit I LOVE, plus we like the ring of abbreviating it simply to SV.
The embroidery aspect of your clogs is really unique. How did you come up with this and what was protype-ing like?
RB: When concepting designs for the embroidery, I had two goals that I wanted to achieve. One being that we held true to the striking juxtaposition that originally inspired us, and second that we used a type of embroidery that used a thick thread. The second proved to be a hurdle for us as we needed to find a specific machine that would take a thick thread, or double multiple thinner threads to create that effect.
GG: From my textile design days I knew what we had in mind could be done, but it was hard to find a company with the particular machinery needed to do it. We spent many lunch hours calling embroidery shops nationwide and we very luckily found a great partner in a small company down in LA. They quickly understood our vision so the prototyping was actually quite simple, we just went a few rounds with them getting the thread colors perfect. We love that they’re in state, too
What is the process of designing and getting your clogs made?
GG: Many hours on Pinterest, collaboratively scrap booking color and shape inspo! Then going old school - printing images out, pinning them up on the wall, narrowing down what appeals to us from them & why and then mapping out how we envision bringing these isolated elements together.
RB: We set up a Santa Venetia war room of sorts when creating our upper designs. We surrounded ourselves with inspirational photos and color schemes and dove deep into a creative collaboration. We picked mutual favorites and married them by hand, putting pencil to paper. Each one was a discussion and holds a story, which led us to naming each design as well.
GG: Final designs are then finessed and colored in photoshop by us both. This design phase truly gives me life, it is time consuming and often challenging, but I absolutely love it.
What is your favorite Santa Venetia style?
GG: Oh this is SO hard. Moon Madelena has a special place in my heart as that is the first design I worked on and had a vision for long before it was actualized. I love Ivory Shannon as it’s so versatile, serving totally as a neutral but with complex, unexpected texture. Golden Sunday has become a new favorite also. It’s almost a neutral but has gorgeous notes of marigold and cornflower blue, just in the right proportions, that give an all white or beige outfit a subtle pop.
What are you excited for right now?
GG: SS19! Not only are we introducing a couple of gorgeous new color palettes but we have an exciting product line expansion that we cannot wait to share.
RB: I couldn't echo GG more, SS19 is where it is at. As much as I love our introductory SS18 line, I am looking forward to revealing our new colors and new product!
I had SUCH a hard time deciding what pair to get. Do I go with a pop of color? Do I go neutral? I eventually landed on the Ivory Shannon - simple, neutral, can go with anything. Maybe my most fav part of their designs though is the cushioned foot bed. Why don't more clogs have this?!