FEET ON THE STREET: Mickey Ashmore is the former finance guy who became the shoemaker working out of his New York apartment.
He’s now hitting the streets of Los Angeles — 1617 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, to be exact — in hopes of finding a more permanent home for his brand on the West Coast.
His shoe company, Sabah, has taken up about 1,200 square feet of temporary space on the famed street, which he selected for its proximity to the beach.
The entrepreneur, a former employee of Microsoft and later part of a private equity fund in New York, started the shoe company in July 2013. Sabah is still small, with about five employees for a business that’s sold more than 5,000 pairs of $190 shoes since its inception. Ashmore declined to say how much the company expects to do in annual revenue this year, although there are limitations he’s working through as the business scales. The shoes are handmade in the southeast of Turkey and there’s only so much stock, he said, that can be shipped to him each month. Where the shoes are made are part of the brand DNA.
“The genesis of the business was I discovered a pair of shoes in Turkey and decided to re-create them in a little bit of a different way,” Ashmore said. “I have a town house so I turned the front into a showroom and then I also live there. The whole idea of the business has been around hospitality.”
The concept of operating a business and building a brand in a more authentic, residential environment — an apartment, in this case — is not new.
Vanessa Traina Snow’s The Line retail concept operates out of an apartment in New York and expanded to the West Coast in October with a similar shop on Melrose Place in West Hollywood.
“I started the business simply out of a passion and interest in people, hospitality and travel and it was a side project first,” Ashmore said. “I don’t like to shop online myself that much. I enjoy experiences where I get to meet a maker or meet an owner. So I wanted to re-create that or build a similar business with a similar vibe.”
Ashmore, aside from hopes to open a permanent L.A. store as early as the end of next year, also has plans to take the brand to Europe in the spring.