Julie Thompson and her husband, Fernando Pena, launched their company Julieta Shoes in 2016.
Wayzata’s Julie Thompson, M.D., is a hepatologist—she’s on her feet most days, and loves the style and professional look of high heels. “I have been searching for years for a heel that is both beautiful and comfortable,” Thompson says. “Every shoe required compromise on one or the other.”
So, she and her husband—orthopedic surgeon Fernando Pena—decided to take matters into their own hands (er, feet). They started with the classic pump, and set out to create one from high-quality leather that would hold up. “It won’t require a back-up pair of flats stashed in your handbag, an agonizing walk to the car at the end of a wedding, or a need to slip your shoes off under the table during a meeting,” they say.
In 2016, Thompson and Pena launched their company, Julieta Shoes, and partnered with an experienced shoemaker from Spain, Alejandro Aviles, who’s been crafting leather pieces for more than 35 years. Thompson and Pena sketch their product ideas and work on test inserts; then, each shoe is built by hand by Aviles.
Thompson says, “The feedback we have received has been awesome. Women are telling us that they love the experience of opening the shoes, which are very carefully packaged, like a beautiful gift to yourself. We are constantly told how gorgeous the leather is and, most importantly, women are wearing the shoes and giving us feedback that they are the most comfortable heels they have worn.”
And the husband-and-wife team think they couldn’t have chosen a better location to live and work. “We love Wayzata,” Thompson says. “When we look out at the lake from our home, it helps us get into a calm yet creative mindset.”