Charleston Shoe Company has reimagined women's footwear with versatile, comfortable, and stylish shoes designed for every occasion. We are a women-owned "cobblestones to cocktails" footwear brand with nearly 25 retail stores across the United States and a large extended family of artisan cobblers in Mexico. We operate as a lean, entrepreneurial, founder-driven team geared toward designing shoes for the everyday, modern woman.
Neely Woodson Powell
Growing up, Neely Woodson Powell, had creative inspiration everywhere. Both of her parents were entrepreneurs – her father developed Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys and her mother started the wholesale interior furnishings mecca, Worlds Away. It seems she comes by her passion naturally, but her story is one of hustle, hard work and great shoes.
In the summer of 1996, while in Central Mexico, Neely met a cobbler who made stylish yet comfortable shoes. It was there that her journey truly began. Impressed with the style and versatility, Neely started selling shoes alongside her mother’s furniture markets – and these women, working the tradeshows, standing on their feet all day became her first of many loyal customers. Drawn to building relationships and serving customers, Neely effortlessly pivoted from selling shoes in furniture markets to having wholesale accounts across the country.
In 2009, Neely took another important step in her journey – she enrolled in the Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, GA to learn more about the shoe design process. Armed with her years of creative inspiration, customer research and design knowledge, Neely opened her very first retail storefront on Broughton Street in iconic Savannah. Then, in less than six months, she opened a small storefront on the historic section of King Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. From there, she quickly followed by the opening a storefront in Charleston’s newly renovated City Market.
After establishing locations in Charleston, Savannah, and on both Florida coasts, the demand for the “cobblestones to cocktails” shoes continued to reach new heights. In an effort to expand past retail, Neely created a true wholesale line that launched in January 2011. Since then, stores around the US have welcomed the chance to sell her wide range of styles and The Charleston Shoe Co. line is now sold in over 200 boutiques in the US.
From Palm Beach to La Jolla, Newport to Nantucket and Santa Monica to Southampton, women can’t get enough of the comfortable, versatile, and stylish shoes. Her long-standing partnership with the same cobbler she met in 1996 continues today. In addition to being the owner and founder of Charleston Shoe Company, Neely is a mother, an avid traveler and very active in the Charleston community. People are drawn to her charm, charisma, and dynamic personality, but most of all, women are drawn to her shoes – and the story they tell.
Want to hear even more about Neely's story straight from Neely herself? Check out her appearance on James McKinney's, The Startup Story podcast!