Lori's Shoes began as a small retail storefront in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago 37 years ago. Today, it's a Chicagoland institution with a strong online presence and three brick and mortar locations. Get to know Lori a little better as she lets us in on some of her secrets to success. Like what she's wearing? Shop the entire collection inspired by Lori Andre here.
How long have you been in the shoe business and what got you into it?
I've been in business for more than 36 years, and I've always had a passion for shoes and accessories ever since I was a little girl. In fact, when I was younger, I was very entrepreneurial and at the age of about 12 I started my own beading business. One summer I would sit in front of my house, sell beads by the scoop, make necklaces for people and sell them. So, I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit. And ever since I graduated college I always knew I wanted to do something on my own. I have a love of food, but I also have a love of fashion, shoes and accessories, and I decided that shoes and accessories would be a lot easier than being in the food business. Wearing: Distressed Suede Star Sneaker
What was your vision when you opened the store, and has your vision changed over time?
I think that it's really important as a business owner that you're always sort of re-visioning or you're reinventing yourself, or evolving over time. When we first started, we were primarily just a shoe store - primarily just an off price shoe store - and we've evolved over the years. We've gone to Italy, we started our own private label business, we have introduced clothing in a big way, as well as accessories, and I think it's because of that - always changing and evolving, introducing new things - that's helped make us successful. Wearing: Terry Reversible Jacket
, Adi Pointed Toe Sock Bootie
What is something you wish you could have told your younger self when you first entered the business?
One of the things that comes to mind is don't be afraid to take risks. To be in this business you have to be a risk taker. And I do consider myself to be a good risk taker. But I think really early on, if I would've just taken a few more, the outcome would've been really great. Wearing: Camilo Military Jacket
What makes shopping at your store so different and unique?
That would be a really good question to ask our customers! But for me personally, how I see it, is that we're unique in the fact that all of our shoes are out on the floor, so at any given moment, people are pulling boxes out from stacks, they're walking around the store without shoes on... It's almost sort of like a shoeless comradery that kind of goes on and takes place here. Wearing: Loafer with Bit
, Everyday Cardi
I think what makes us so different is our unique selection we have. We really try to bring in things that are a little bit more unique, things you won't necessarily find at any other shoe store, that makes it a fun and more interesting shopping experience. And I feel like with the broad selection of merchandise that we have, you walk into our store and it's almost like walking into a candy store. You don't know what to touch first, and you want to see everything, feel everything.. and I think that creates a really exciting experience for our customers.
What is your favorite pair of shoes, and why do you like them so much?
Well, that's a very good question, but it's also a really easy question for me to answer. I have to say that probably my most favorite pair of shoes are my wedding shoes that I was wed in 36 years ago. I still have them, of course they don't fit anymore cuz they were 8.5AA and now I'm like a 9.5AA so they obviously don't fit, but every once in a while I'll take them down from the shelf and look at them and just think how wonderful it is that I still have them and again how wonderful my marriage is. Wearing: Addict Dad Sneaker
, Vail Belt Bag
, Faux Fur Lined Denim Jacket
What kind of shoes are they?
They were white satin Andrew Geller shoes and Andrew Geller obviously isn't a brand that exists anymore, but back in the 80s it was a very hot brand, and they were made in Italy. And I think at the time I might've paid $58 on them, which probably at the time seemed like a lot of money for me, but of course they are very special to me, so they are my favorite pair of shoes. Wearing: Goldie Faux Fur Hooded Jacket
, Faux Leather Newsboy Cap
Favorite era of fashion?
Well, definitely not the 90s. I would probably have to say, for me personally, the 70s. I think it was just a really great time for fashion. It was very casual, very individualistic, and there was just something about that sort of hippyish trend that I really like. It spoke to me personally because I grew up in the 70s, so for me it's definitely my favorite era for fashion. Wearing: Tonal Studded Chelsea Boot
, Milo Three-in-One Coat