Shop Talk: DOPP Opens A Gorgeous "Soda Shoe Parlor" in Downtown Berkeley
From the mind of founder and designer, Shayla Dopp, her shoes were meant for walking.
Opening up a turquoise shoe box in itself, DOPP has (in our opinion) changed the Bay Area shoe game. The new space reflects Santa Cruz-native Shayla's overflowing creative mind and the functionality of having her own space. Born from the desire to want to design shoes—Shayla found herself in Paris working in the field of fashion but shoes were just not yet on his blossoming designer's radar. Finding herself in the styling world of the Bay Area and beyond, Shayla took her love for footwear to the next level, rather than buy and return, she said, "I'm going to make my own," she went on to explain how the process then took off, "I took a business class at Renaissance Entrepreneurship in SF, did a one-on-one prototype week at the Shoe College, met more amazing lady entrepreneurs, made shoes on my own in a container for a year, then drove to L.A. determined to find a factory."
"In the Bay Area, I've been in the styling world for years, and it took me ages to make my first shoe," she told us as we adorned the wall of multiple color. "The space is giving me ice cream parlor, early 60's, fanciful soda sock-hop realness," we tell her as we slide ourselves in a size 12 Greta. Her smile is ear to ear as we delightfully bounce around in her shoewear, "why are these NOT uncomfortable?" we ask, this is where the designers technical ability shines, "it's all in the top lift. It's where the ball of your heel is supported so I made sure to source top lift's that wear well and aren't too stiff," she explains.
She goes onto explain the anatomy of her heels. Lamb over leather, suede over velvet, wood over plastic. It's all in the details for DOPP as a brand, and of course, you get what you paid for. "Over and over again, when I do pop-ups [such as West Coast Craft] girls will say over and over again, 'these are SO COMFORTABLE,' so I only put out what's the best quality for women," she explains. "AND MEN, because I want them so bad. You make sizes for Women who have bigger feet," I exclaim, "I make heels up to size 13 and sometimes higher—everyone should have access to stylish shoes" Shayla adds.
So we had to ask, "why a store, why a PHYSICAL storefront rather than staying online and doing pop-ups?" To our sarcastic surprise, a physical space is needed to try on shoes. "When I participate at shows like West Coast Craft and so on, I sell more inventory than I do online in a month," she says, "the market is there for me and it was time to create a space that reflected my... brain." And when the time came to search for a space, the hunt seemed like a breeze or a breeze opening a door, "I found this space fairly quick and the turnaround to sign the keys was also fairly quick. By the time we got the keys, we turned the space around from its former tenant and added carpet, a new coat of paint and begun to build out the checkout table and other little things like the "closet.""
So why downtown Berkeley? This Oakland resident explains, "the community—it's so alive, so welcoming, and I really feel apart of the shop owner circle here." On Shayla's first week building the space, shop owners from near and far were coming over to wish her success on her new space, take her and her husband out for drinks, and really create a circle and bond amongst the community, "I feel looked out for and I can't wait to really bring something excellent to the community."
To celebrate, Shayla is bringing the shoe box party alive with the launch of the store front this Sunday, Aug. 5th! What can you expect? Well a lot of shoes to try on (in all sizes), there will also be lavender wine by gal pal Free Range Flower Winery, florals by Lonely Little Petunia, and music all from (noon to 6pm). Fun fact: DOPP, Free Range Flower Winery, and Lonely Little Petunia all met Renaissance Entrepreneurship in SF—now that's what we call networking and also very full circle.
So what is next for the designer? A store is a child in of itself but what are other ideas that come to mind, "I have a lot of concepts for the store, the brand, and the line—nothing I can speak to yet but lets say they're all really exciting." Whatever the exciting idea is, we will be first in line to cop.
// 2115 Allston Way, Berkeley, dopp.city; Photography by Anthony Rogers.