Q&A: Kifle Boutique, Short North shoe mecca

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
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From the January 9, 2014 edition

Aba and Helen Kifle were sure the shoepocalypse was eminent when their sister Aden Kifle left her job at a Soho shoe boutique in New York City to move back to Columbus. But rather than pout about the loss of their high-end hook-up, the well-heeled Kifle clan decided to stop dreaming and start doing. After years of discussion, the sisters took the plunge and opened Kifle Shoe Boutique in The Short North last August, hoping to bring a little more style to the capital city.

Our parents are from Eritrea in East Africa. Aden was actually born there. They left the country and moved here because of war. I just got back from visiting family there. Aba

Aden lived in New York and worked at a shoe boutique in Soho. We used to get all our shoes there. Once she moved back, we thought, “Where are we going to get our shoes now?” Fashion had always been a part of our lives, and when Aden moved back she knew she wanted to open her own boutique. Once I quit my sales job I asked them if they were serious about the store. After about three years of talking, we got down to business in April of 2013 and opened that August. Aba

Starting a small business is really scary. In the back of your mind you always think, “Should I be doing this?” In the corporate world, there is more micro-managing. Now that we have a business we get to bring our own ideas and do what we want. Aden

The hardest part of this whole endeavor was finding a location! We knew we wanted to be in the Short North, but we were having a lot of trouble finding a place. Our brother (who works across the street) texted us one day and said the space at 1203 N. High was available. As soon as we saw the floors, we knew it was the spot. Cleaning those beautiful granite floors was a two- month project. Aba

We cater to girls who have their own unique style. We are all about the girl who wants to be fashionable in their every-day attire and try lots of different looks. We have polished pumps for work and edgier styles as well. We try to bring in a little bit of everything to take that stylish girl from the office to a night out. Aden

Events like Gallery Hop have really helped our business. Sometimes it’s hard to get people browsing the Short North to come this far north to shop. Events like Gallery Hop have given us an opportunity to feature the work of local artists and designers while getting people in the space. The events are so fun and we’ve met some great people and gotten a lot of community support. Helen

The Columbus fashion scene is definitely growing. The success we’ve had so far with the boutique has shown us there is a demand for fashion in the city. Helen

We have amazing designers that don’t always have a platform to display and sell their work [in Columbus], and we hope to provide and help grow that platform. For example, my favorite local designer right now is Erica Dawn Woodmore. We carry her stuff in the store because she definitely has an empire state of mind. Aden

Columbus just needs more confidence. That’s the only thing we’re missing. Aba