Soula (pronounced SOLE-A) has been a beloved neighborhood institution and a destination shoe store since opening in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn in 2004. Soula’s also a favorite of Time Out New York, New York Magazine, Racked, Complex.com, WWD and Footwear News as well as countless travel and fashion bloggers.
Soula is a pioneer, opening long before the Brooklyn brand became the commodity it is now. Thirteen years later, they’re proud to thrive in an area where many shoppers default to internet buying. No doubt this is a testament to their unique, highly curated selection, unparalleled service and a shared love of community. Soula, like their loyal customers, know that keeping it local makes for a happy, vibrant neighborhood.
Owner and manager, Rick Lee, has done it all. Right out of college he learned the basics of retail at Lord & Taylor. Next, a quick stop at Charles Jourdan as assistant buyer to improve his French (he’s from Montreal, after all) and learn the art of buying in the shoe and accessory factories of France. In the eighties he was a buyer at the ultimate tastemaker’s boutique, Charivari. In 1990, he started as a buyer at Barneys New York, working his way up over ten years to Divisional Merchandise Manager and VP of Men's Shoes and Accessories. He got around, spending months each year in shoe factories and show rooms all over Europe, designing and buying shoes and and earning amazing frequent flier miles. He learned all about the craft of shoe making, and that, in most shoe factories along the Adriatic they make a very good espresso.
Then one day in 2004 a ‘For Rent’ sign on Smith Street in Brooklyn was just the nudge Rick needed. He’s been here ever since, meeting and befriending neighbors and international travelers, supporting local school fundraisers and donating shoes to people in need in New Orleans, Nepal and Haiti in conjunction with a industry based relief organization.
He feels very lucky to be part of this amazing neighborhood he calls home along with his wife and kids. Thanks, Brooklyn. And thanks, internet shoppers. We’re glad you like us.