Entrepreneur “Steps” Out with Her First Shoe Collection

By Michael Hinkelman
Philadelphia Daily News.

ELENA BRENNAN, 56, of Bella Vista, owns the Bus Stop shoe salon in Queen Village, which opened in April 2007. Next week the London native, who moved here in 1985, plans to launch the shop’s first shoe collection, Bus Stop X All Black.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Bus Stop?

A: When I moved to Philadelphia, I’d get frustrated when I went shoe shopping and thought there was a need for a really cool shoe boutique here. So it was out of my personal needs and wants, and a niche in the marketplace.

Q: The startup money?

A: I had a flat in London that I sold, and used some of the proceeds to open Bus Stop. It was about $150,000.

Q: The name?

A: When I was a teenager there was a clothing boutique by the same name in London. I loved the ambience of it, I loved the name and said if I ever own a boutique I’ll call it Bus Stop.

Q: What’s special about your shoes?

A: They’re shoes you can’t find in department stores. They’re small labels, limited edition, some are handmade in Europe and South America, shoes you’d find on your travels.

Q: What are your most popular items and their cost?

A: One brand is United Nude by Rem D. Koolhaas [nephew of a Dutch architect of the same name] whose company is based in the United Kingdom. His women’s shoes cost $200 to $250. Another brand is All Black, by a woman in Taiwan. They’re well-made, comfortable shoes you can’t find in a lot of places. They are $185 and up, and I carry men’s and women’s.

Q: Why did you decide to start your own collection?

A: It’s a collaboration with All Black called Bus Stop X All Black and it’s a limited-edition collection. I’ve always wanted my own collection and decided to collaborate with a designer, Colin Lin, whom I admire and whose shoes I wear.
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I chose the Oxford, a flat, slip-on shoe that can go from day to night, dressed up or dressed down.

Q: Your customers?

A: College students to working women to retirees.

Q: The biz model?

A: We just launched an online store. Most business is brick-and-mortar, but I expect online sales to increase with the new collection.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: We have one part-time manager. Last year, I sold more than 2,000 pairs and had revenues of more than $262,000.

Q: What’s next?

A: The next steps are another shoe collection, possibly another location, though not in Philadelphia. I’m excited about the new line but ultimately want a collection that’s just a Bus Stop shoe and wholesale to boutiques outside Philadelphia.

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