Seattle-based shoe designer Kira Bundlie is a great collaborator, the kind who insists upon sharing the credit. Even when it involves Lady Gaga.
Bundlie, who was raised in Eagan, and Lisa Strom, co-founders of Hourglass Footwear, were asked to design shoes for Lady Gaga by the X's PR manager, Jora Bart. When performers come to St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Bart likes to send them off with a gift to remember Minnesota fondly. Bundlie flew in from Seattle to deliver the shoes. She and her colleagues got tickets to the performance, but in the end they were not able to arrange a meeting with Gaga.
While coordinating my startribune.com/video with Bundlie, she made it clear that she wanted her colleagues on the project to play a prominent role in reporting this exciting chapter in their shoe studio's life. So Bundlie met me at Bob's Java Hut (where else but a coffee shop -- they are from Seattle!) with Strom and an artist who painted the Gaga shoes, Debbie Faas. Fass noted that another artist, Rachel J.E. Sprague, also helped paint the bee-and-honeycomb motif. Lady Gaga is the Queen Bee of her Little Monsters.
Kira's sister, Bryn, who lives in Minneapolis, and their parents, Eric and Susan Bundlie, also dropped by the coffee shop because they all had roles in chauffeuring the visiting shoe designers around town.
Q Kira, how did you celebrate the news that you were designing shoes for Lady Gaga's feet?
A We got the e-mail from Jora. It was a kind of quiet evening at the studio, post holidays. It came in and I read [the e-mail] to Lisa four times. It took a while for it to sink in. There may have been some cheap wine involved. Very fun news.
Q Now that you've made shoes for Lady Gaga, are there any other celebrities for whom you'd like to design some kicks?
A [Kira:] We've been talking about this. There are two: Michelle Obama would be ideal. We have this portion of our [website] called "We've got (iss)shoes," and we like to support the causes that our artists find important. They decide the portion of their own commission that they want to go to that nonprofit, and we match it. Debbie designed a "Democratic Platform" with all the Obama logos. We are hoping to get Michelle in a pair of "Democratic Platforms."
[Lisa:] I'm angling to get RuPaul in a pair of our shoes. That's my dream.
Q Approximately how many pairs of shoes are in your closet?
A [Debbie:] Four pairs.
[Lisa:] I'm at 19.
Q Are you a Manolo or Louboutin person?
A [Kira:] Louboutin.
Q Kira, why do high-end shoemakers get to charge so much? Can there really be that much difference in the leather they are using?
A That's a good question. I don't know. I would imagine probably not. A lot of it has to do with brand identity.
Q Lisa, what's the biggest mistake women make when buying shoes?
A I would say not allowing their personality to show through in the shoes they choose.
Q Kira, how do you make a comfortable high heel?
A Wear platforms. These are incredibly comfortable. However, if you're not brave enough for the platforms: These are our Mary Jane Comforts. They have a lot of padding in them, they have a strap on them; they're almost like wearing tennis shoes.
Q Do you have any corns and calluses?
A [Kira:] No, I actually don't.
[Lisa:] I have blisters from my spin class.
Q Kira, could your parents ever have imagined that they were home-schooling a future shoe designer?
A [Laughter] Probably not. But on the other hand, that probably was the whole thing. Do whatever you want and I'll support that; that's what they were going for.
Q I was shopping with my friend Carol shoe-a-holic when she fell in love with a pair of shoes. She carried on with me: Look at these! Don't you think they are darling! I think I have to get them. A few days later she called me to say that there was indeed a reason she loved those shoes: She already had the exact same pair in her shoe closet. Has this ever happened to you?
A [Lisa:] Noooo.
[Kira:] I have not done that.
Interviewers are edited. C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz."
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