Sigrid Gelati-Meinert: a stylish shoe lover with a vintage fascination

Meet Sigrid Gelati-Meinert, owner of Peponita Shoes a gorgeous little bespoke shoe store located on London’s quaint Columbia Road. Nestled in amongst a host of other independent boutiques, Sigrid’s enthusiasm for vintage shoes saw her open the store just two years ago. Peponita offers an array of flattering and feminine styles, with a strong focus on traditional quality craftsmanship and most importantly, a sensible heel height. Khoollect spoke to Sigrid about her passion for shoes and how to give them the love and attention they deserve.

A Day in the Life of Sigrid

It seems there’s a lot of history to your business – how did it get started?

I launched Peponita Shoes two years ago, but the idea had been in my head for quite some time. I’ve always loved shoes, but I was quite fussy and I could never find what I wanted. I particularly like vintage shoes but, of course, when you find a pair of vintage shoes you like they’re never in your size. I decided to start my own brand, inspired by all the things I love about vintage shoes.

Since starting Peponita I have crossed paths with many interesting women who are all doing something a little bit different and making beautiful products. Peponita & Friends (the name of the store on Columbia Road) is inspired by those women – it’s a space where I can showcase all the amazing design and talent I have seen.

Peponita-Columbia-Road

What’s the philosophy behind your company?

I love Bauhaus art and design. The school’s famous maxim that form must follow function has become my design philosophy. Functionality is key to my designs.  Obviously shoes have to look good, but if you can’t walk all day in them, then what’s the point?

The manufacturing process is really important to me, too. All our shoes are made in a family run artisan factory in Italy. The skill of the craftsmen and women who make our shoes has been passed down through the generations. The women who I collaborate with in the shop all have the same ethos – their products are made by skilled artisans using traditional methods or by the women themselves.

Where did the idea come from to produce women’s dress shoes for everyday wear? Is it because Londoners are big on commuting by foot?

Yes, exactly! I think being from London has had a really big influence on my designs. London is so big, so you’re always walking around, catching the tube, or running for a bus. I wanted my shoes to fit in with my lifestyle. They need to look great and last a long time. Comfort is essential – I need to be able to wear my shoes from morning until night.

Tell us about your typical day at work?

Each day is so different. During the week if I’m not cycling around town meeting potential partners, then you’ll find me working at home with a massive pot of tea. On the weekends I’m at Peponita & Friends on Columbia Road. Sundays are the busiest day because of the flower market. Even though it’s an early start, I love it, because I meet so many interesting people from across London and around the world.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I’m really proud of my product. Every time someone comes back for a second pair, they tell me how they are the most comfortable shoes they have ever had. This makes me really pleased and I think ‘mission accomplished’.

Is collaboration important in your line of work?

I think collaboration is really important in any line of work. I really rely on the expertise of the people who make my shoes and I will always listen to them if they have suggestions.

What inspires you?

I find music really inspirational and I love to dance. I listen to a lot of jazz and disco and I think that has translated to my designs. People often say that my lace-up shoes remind them of tap shoes. And, of course, they are really comfortable to dance in!

Peponita-Shoes-Columbia-Road-2

Any top tips for getting the most out of your shoes?

It’s really important to use good leather products on your shoes and to protect them regularly.

I like the brand Saphir – I use their Crème Surfine on all my soft leather shoes. You should also protect your shoes with a spray several times a season. Another top tip is to clean patent shoes with window cleaner.

Peponita-Tips

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few…

I used to collect sugar packets. It sounds nerdy, but it’s actually a really interesting thing to collect, especially if you travel a lot. My favourite is actually from a friend’s mother who went to Bermuda and brought me back some cool sugar packets.

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

I couldn’t live without my bike. It’s a vintage 1940s ladies racing frame and my dad made it for me. My second favourite is my dining table, which my dad also made – he is really talented.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Don’t let fear of failure ever stop you from doing anything.

What’s your secret ingredient in the kitchen?

My Greek grandmother always adds a squirt of ketchup into any homemade tomato sauce. It’s a really good trick and makes any tomato-based stew or casserole extra delicious.

Favourite corner of the Internet?

I’ve recently started listening to podcasts. I’m obsessed with Undisclosed, which is the follow-up to Serial (about the murder trial of an American high school student in 1999). It’s really fascinating and I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the US justice system.

Urban Favourites

Top three spots to hang out in London?

My favourite pub is the Exmouth Arms in Farringdon. The crab fries are excellent. I grew up in North London so Hampstead Heath is a very special place for me. I now live in South London, near Brixton Village. I love it as there is every cuisine you could possibly want, many independent restaurants and it has a really relaxed atmosphere  – perfect for wandering.

Best way to spend a Sunday morning?

Well, definitely shopping on Columbia Road. But if I wasn’t on Columbia Road, my ideal Sunday morning would start with a swim at Brockwell Lido followed by brunch at the Lido Cafe with a copy of Sunday Times Style. Then if I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I’d buy a Greek Frozen Yogurt from Chill Box in Brixton Village.

Favourite place for coffee?

I’m actually more of a tea person. However, I love the Shoreditch Grind on Old Street Roundabout – for great coffee during the day and even better cocktails at night.

Favourite places to eat around London?

I love Brixton Cornercopia.  All their ingredients are from local growers (the furthest afield being Croydon) and it’s always fresh, seasonal and delicious. They always have unusual ingredients, some of which I had never heard of, but quickly became new favourites.

Silk Road in Camberwell is my favourite Chinese restaurant. The food is from the Xinjiang province of China and completely unlike the ‘normal’ Chinese food we’re used to. It’s definitely worth a visit.

My favourite food of all time is a souvlaki (Greek kebab). You can get these everywhere in Greece, but unfortunately it’s one of the few food trends that hasn’t quite arrived in London yet. The most authentic that I’ve found is a street-food stall called The Athenian, by Shoreditch High Street Overground. My favourite version is a pork gyros with tomatoes, onions, loads of tzatziki all wrapped in fried Greek pita.

Read about Khoollect’s visit to Peponita shoes, or get the lowdown from Sigrid on caring for quality shoes.

Peponita Shoes

Find Peponita on Facebook – Instagram – Twitter

You’ve read Sigrid’s tips for caring for your shoes, now share yours in the comments below. 

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WRITTEN BY:
Bex Shannon

Hailing from far away New Zealand, Bex is into music, travel and everything vintage and retro. She h...

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