Local footwear company making big waves and big fans

SEATTLE -- What do you give the woman who has everything?

That was the question concert organizers asked themselves in St. Paul, Minnesota, when they were searching for a thank you gift for Lady Gaga.

They found their answer in Ballard at Hourglass Footwear.

It doesn't look like the hottest shoe store in Seattle, until founders Kira Bundlie and Lisa Strom walk in. The women wanted to create a business tapping into their artistic skills.

"So we sat down and brainstormed and somebody said shoes," said Kira.

Kira and Lisa work with seven other artists, handpainting shoes in Ballard. Just seven months old and their business is already getting a lot of attention.

One hot shoe - a tribute to spicy Sriracha sauce - got a write up in Bon Appetit and New York Magazine, sparking a stiletto order from Sriracha's operations manager.

Miss Washington wore their shoes to the Miss America pageant.

But the biggest buzz has been around honeybee adorned shoes, specially crafted for Lady Gaga. The Xcell Energy Center in St. Paul asked Hourglass to make the shoes as a gift.

"Lady Gaga typically doesn't accept gifts. However her wardrobe team saw them and took them directly to her. So we're hoping!" Kira said.

Even if they don't spot their shoes on the red carpet, Hourglass is going strong for a fledgling company.

"There's a time in the beginning of any company that it's a little tight and a little scary. Just in the last few months we're starting to breath a sigh of relief," Kira said.

Their business is primarily online, but locals are welcome to drop in and try on a pair.

"People come and their jaws drop and the excitement, and people planning their outfits around our shoes," Lisa said.

And the shoes have already passed the Seattle test. They're durable - and rainproof.

"We test everything," Lisa said. "We don't sell any style of shoe or kind of paint that we haven't actually worn ourselves. We're very willing guinea pigs."

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