When it comes to blending vintage with a modern edge, the women behind Santa Venetia know how things should be done. Raquel Bedard and Gemma Greenhill’s story began at a Memorial Day kickback, when a friend came in clogs. As they admired the shoe, the two friends started tossing around ideas for a more modern, revolutionized version of the classic shoe.
Soon, they realized their concept of a perfect clog was not only plausible — it was possible. The budding entrepreneurs were both optimally suited to speak on the topic — Bedard’s background being in cobbling, while Greenhill’s is in the fashion and textile experience.
Their desire was to create something unforgettable, elevating the definitive style of the clog without compromising the comfort and quality often associated with it. Their creation would bring not just the option, but the necessity, to dress around the shoe.
“The shoe is the focal point for us,” explains Bedard, suggesting outfit pairings with minimalist style and oversized silhouettes.
With meticulous attention to detail, contrasting textures, and a unique combination of embellishments, Bedard and Greenhill have created something that, as Bedard explains, “disrupts a familiar category.”
Although the final products bring an effortless elevation to any wardrobe, the process to get there was far from effortless…
The two searched high and low for a high quality, ethical manufacturer before finding one that met their rigorous standards for their vision — all the while altering their supply chain numerous times and simultaneously juggling personal careers and families.
Aside from the manufacturing, embroidering, and leather supply partners, it’s just the two of them running the show. And they are first to admit that keeping a business running smoothly between two busy people (especially two friends) is no small feat.
The key? Cherish moments of laughter and stay honest. “Keeping that piece makes the hard moments easier,” says Bedard. “Be honest and upfront about what you want and what you can do.”
With more than a year under their belt, they’ve noticed a change in their relationship with the products they create. When Santa Venetia first began, their products were a tangible creation of something in their mind. But now, Greenhill says, “It’s become less of a personal pet project and more of a collaboration with our buyers.”
Armed with their own unique twist, Santa Venetia offers a variety of embroidered patterns, elevating the shoe from a fashion statement to an art piece. Their clogs have created something new from something old — a juxtaposition of soft and sharp.
In retrospect, the women agree that they wouldn’t change a thing about their story. The satisfaction has come not only from building a fashion staple but through the hands-on process of creating it. What would they say to their younger selves at the beginning of the journey?
“It’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be wild, and you’re gonna do things you didn’t think you’d do,” Greenhill says, a smile forming. “Just do it.”
Based out of Los Angeles, Iona Brannon is a writer and photojournalist who deeply enjoys hearing the stories of others and drawing out the beauty of the mundane. Her hobbies include sitting in LA traffic and occasionally yelling at other drivers. You can see her work and connect with her at ionabrannon.com.