We met! I (Megan) was working for another Bay Area footwear company and was given the task to find another designer for the design team. I reached out to the Academy of Art and Cristina (with no "H") was highly recommended. I quickly called her for an interview. The interview went great and I strongly encouraged my boss to hire Cristina immediately, as they couldn't afford to lose her. Little did they know that Cristina was also being pursued by Steve Madden. After a very long couple of days (Cris was playing hardball) Cristina accepted the position with my then company. We worked together for one year, designing 3 full collections together and decided it was time to split off and do our own thing. We could take what we learned about comfort and fit and apply it to a cutting edge, modern, contemporary line of footwear.
We started writing our business plan, researching factories and suppliers and designing our first collection...all from the "Birds Nest," a small cottage in Megan's back yard in Sausalito. Looking back, these were such care free and creative times! Scrappy, Parker and Piper were all resident helpers. We decided on the name FRĒDA SALVADOR because we both love the spirit and attitude of Frida Kahlo. Salvador came from Cris' home country of El Salvador, which is a very big influence on our brand.
Our first factory was in Brazil. We went there in August and started working with their production team on our designs.
We traveled to NY with 2 suitcases full of our first samples and big dreams. We crashed Cristina's dad's meeting with Peter Marcus Group (an amazing footwear showroom) and asked them to critique our shoes. We are getting chills as we write this, but they fell in love at first sight with our shoes. The very next day our shoes were in the showroom and we were meeting with buyers from places like Barneys, Saks, Net-A-Porter....we were on cloud nine. We got extremely good feedback from the buyers and left NY super encouraged. THEN...our factory in Brazil shut down and we quickly learned that in order to succeed we will have major battles.
Luckily Cristina comes from a shoe making family in Central America and their factories were able and willing to take on our production for our Fall 12 collection. Our shoes were purchased by Saks Fifth Avenue, Shopbop.com and Anthropologie our first season, so we were going to deliver that collection on time if it was the last thing we did. El Salvador quickly became our home and we will never forget the love and passion they put into our shoes. The collection was delivered on time to our stores and our shoes were very well received by customers. Yay! First season success :)
While we were searching for a temporary pop up space in San Francisco we found our current home on Union Street. We had no intention on opening a retail location until much later in our business, but the minute we walked into our space, we knew it made sense for us, as we were quickly out growing our tiny hillside cottage. We signed a lease and opened our first flagship store at 1782 Union Street in February 2013. This is also our design studio and wholesale office, so unless we are traveling we are there. (Come see us!)
We travel to Italy 2x a year to buy our leather and now we have permanently moved our factory to Elda, Spain. It is also a small family factory, under 10 people work there and hand make every shoe! We are currently designing 4 collections a year...two smaller ones, Resort and Pre-Fall and two major ones, Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer.
We are eternally grateful for all of the support we have received over the past two years! We absolutely love what we do and could not do it without you.
With all the happiness in the world, please join us in celebrating and shouting
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FREDA!!!