For the past decade, Emilie Blaze has been outfitting Baltimore’s best-shod women in shoes that are pretty, feminine and unlike anything you can find at most local shoe shops. From the leopard carpet to the gorgeous displays, her store, The Little Shoebox in Ruxton, is a shoe-lover’s paradise.
Blaze opened The Little Shoebox ten years ago with her friend Janie Griffin; she bought Griffin out in 2014 and is now the shop’s sole proprietor. This year, as The Little Shoebox celebrates its tenth anniversary, Blaze is pondering the past, but at the same time, she’s excited about what the future has in store – and she’s throwing a party to celebrate. (To read more about the history of The Little Shoebox, click here.)
“We started The Little Shoebox just to bring Baltimore shoes,” she recalls. “At the time, shoes were just coming into vogue as the accessory. We really wanted to bring pretty, feminine shoes to Baltimore. We trekked to find the boutique vendors and the smaller makers that are out there and that you see in magazines, but don’t run across every day.”
The vendors she’s found are diverse – from Kate Spade and Loeffler Randall to Butter and Bettye Muller – but they share a commitment to beautiful shoes that are extremely well-made. Though Blaze is constantly looking for new shoemakers and fresh styles (plus great non-shoe accessories, like jewelry and scarves), her core focus, she says, won’t change.
“The whole point of the store is to be really pretty, unusual, well-made, full of color and different. We’re the store for the discerning eye,” she says. “In the next ten years, we’ll be keeping the same qualities., but our vendor list is ever-changing.”
Blaze notes that because The Little Shoebox is a small shop, she has the flexibility to pick up new vendors or skip a season with one shoemaker if she doesn’t love their shoes at the time.
When she’s looking for shoes, Blaze looks for what appeals to her personally, but she always keeps her customers in mind. “I try to keep it young and fun, for younger customers, but also don’t forget my older clientele who want a little more of a conservative look, but still very pretty and very feminine,” she says.
Over the past ten years, Blaze has observed that across customers, shoppers are increasingly savvy and in tune with what they want. At the same time, she says, her customers’ overall style is trending more casual.
In the early days of The Little Shoebox, she says, more customers came into the shop looking for shoes to wear with party dresses. “There aren’t as many parties now,” she says, noting that people still look for fun shoes when they do dress up, but that’s usually for weddings or bar or bat mitzvahs and not as much for cocktail parties-for-no-reason.
“It’s too bad,” she laments. “It’s so fun to plan something and plan your wardrobe around an event!”
And Blaze does like to celebrate. The shop’s anniversary has given her an excuse for fun and a chance to thank her customers. “It’s to celebrate our longevity and our loyal clients,” she says. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have them!”
Stop by today to see Emilie’s spring collection, and find that ‘perfect pair’ for Mother’s Day!
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