by Juleana Enright
Shoemaking pair Ina Grau know the value of a good shoe – the kind you can flaunt and proudly boast, “They’re local!” Representing the shoe cobblers in local fashion and design, Ina Grau’s Luisa Fernanda Garcia-Gomez and co-founder Crystal Quinn have harmoniously combined their creative and technical talents in art and clothing design to create a collection of handmade, high quality shoes as aesthetically beautiful as they are skillfully crafted.
The shoe duo have been blowing up locally. In fact, you may have seen their visually stunning oxford styles displayed in a recent issue of the Walker Art Center’s events mag and/or featured in Vita.mn’s “Fashion + Shopping” spread.
This September, the Colombian-born co-founder, Garcia-Gomez, returns to her native country to begin work on a collaboration and to oversee a project with Oscar Betancur, a Colombian shoe maker who has been involved with companies both in North and South America. Within the partnership, Betancur will be working with classic and simple Ina Grau design staples to consistently reproduce a limited run of women’s shoes. This weekend, in support of the line’s international embark, Ina Grau hosts a evening you don’t want to miss featuring music, drinks and – most importantly – a raffle with a chance to win a pair of custom shoes.
I caught up with Ina Grau co-founder, Crystal Quinn, to chat about Ina Grau’s inception and get the details on Luisa’s collaboration with Oscar Betancur.
l’étoile: Tell us how Ina Grau got started.
Quinn: Luisa and I connected years ago over our mutual love of drawing. Together we organized a public drawing event at Shinders downtown during the 2009 exhibition, in which we were both exhibiting work. Years after, Ina Grau came about over a night of friends, good conversations and pizza. Knowing a bit about each others esthetic and interests we started meeting up once a week just to talk about shoes, our influences and our ever growing arsenal of images that have shaped and moved us. Eventually we decided to really dive head first into the art of shoemaking, and slowly we turned our idea into an actual practice and haven’t ever stopped.
l’étoile: How did the company end up teaming up with Oscar Betancur?
Quinn: The Colombian shoemakers that Luisa has worked with in the past have had an international reputation, but unfortunately the massive production and the global market hasn’t left much room for crafts. Luckily, because of Luisa’s friends and family helping us out with organizing everything from production to finding specific material while in Colombia, we have had a lot of help on a daily basis with regards to the details. Oscar was on Luisa’s radar and this all happened to work out for us a great deal. We are super fortunate to start this working relationship with Oscar and his team.
l’étoile: In September when Luisa goes back to Colombia to work with Oscar what will that mean for Ina Grau’s designs on a local level?
Quinn: We have always wanted to involve the shoemakers of Colombia as an homage to the skill and knowledge that we have received from them. It was super important for our growth as artists. We want to provide a continuous relationship that will hopefully continue on into the future. As far as what this means on a local level, this will only allow for us to create our own designs and shoes in studio by providing this staple shoe online as well as in local and national boutiques.
l’étoile: Can you share any details about the shoes up to be raffled off on Friday?
Quinn: We are not raffling off one specific shoe, we are raffling off a custom shoe – women’s or men’s. Basically we would like to begin a conversation to create a special shoe for the lucky winner. We want to have fun by creating something special. Or, if it’s something that we already have as a set design and sparks interest, that’s cool too!
l’étoile: Luisa has a heavy background in shoemaking that goes back to her time spent in Colombia, and your work with Hardland/Heartland has proved you have a knack for visual art and clothing design. Tell us how this blend of disciplines have helped lay the foundation for Ina Grau.
Quinn: The way I see it it’s all the same and that’s what has kept our conversations fresh. The great thing about our mash up of interdisciplinary skills is that we can talk about a painting, and relate it to what we want a shoe to represent or be. True thing. We both have a deep understanding of visual art, design and clothing/fashion design. The cool thing about our relationship is that we are not just one thing, we are artists who just so happen to make shoes. It works!
Celebrate “A Night with Ina Grau” at 711 West Lake Street, Suite #603 (MPLS) from 7-10 p.m. Friday, August 17th for free drinks and music. Raffle kicks off at 9:45 and is $10 to enter. Must be present to win. Visit their Tumblr for more info.