Lesley Griffith and her dog, Mojito, at Capretto Shoes in South Miami

 

Don’t you offer special perks for that VIP following, too?
We actually have a VIP alleyway drive-through. Regulars can call ahead and not have to even walk into the store. They pull up to the store’s alleyway, and I or one of the girls here will bring out boxes of shoes and lay them out on a sheet for them to try on. It’s basically like a drive-through for women who need new shoes in a hurry.

Your store feels almost more like a living room in someone’s home than a boutique.
It’s true. When we built the store, we wanted it to be very intimate. Customers bring their kids constantly. Sometimes we babysit while people go to get their bikini waxes! I bring my dog every day. It’s really an atmosphere where people feel comfortable.

You make it sound like some kind of private club!
It is like a club. And the men also know that when they come into the store, they’ll get great advice. We know their wives so well, we’ll never steer them in the wrong direction.

What happens when a customer comes in thinking she wants a certain shoe she saw in a magazine, but in your heart you know it’s wrong for her? Do you try to talk her into something different?
It boils down to being honest with our customers. A lot of the shoes people see in the press don’t even make it. What you see on models doesn’t always translate to the real world of shoe-buying. But our store is so diverse, with so many different styles, brands and silhouettes, that if I get the right shoe on them and it works, customers will leave happy. I’d direct them somewhere else if I think they aren’t going to look pretty, because at the end of the day that’s what’s going to bring them back to me.

You work so many seasons ahead, and you’re the one seeing the trends firsthand. It’s great that you can give clients that insight.
It’s true. And you, Giuseppe, walk into market appointments as this amazing designer with your whole collection planned and an idea of what you want it to look like. But then you’ll spend days working with different buyers, listening to them about what they need, what they’re hearing from customers and what needs to be tweaked. That’s what makes you successful—you still do that.

Wait, I thought this interview was about you.
But you listen to us! The process works, and that’s why your brand is so successful. You actually get on the phone and call the factories, which I feel isn’t very common anymore.

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