In the late '80s, Ashley Worley was going through a Goth phase. Her search for the "perfect black boot" led her to big cities and alternative stores, and her discovery of a Canadian designer by the name of John Fluevog. An artist with a Master of Fine Art in printmaking (from the University of Georgia), Ashley likens her hobby--turning vintage pieces into new clothing outfits--to that of Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. Her artistic streak is also evident in Firefly, which has a gallery space that specializes in original and provocative art.
To consumers who shy away from local boutiques, Ashley has this to say: "I think that there is a misconception that shopping at a local boutique is super-expensive. While sometimes that is true, most of the shoes that I carry at Firefly are reasonably priced and will last for more than one season."
Though the store is not yet a year old (it will celebrate its one-year anniversary in October), it's definitely upped the coolness ratio in Raleigh. The merchandise is funky, the staff friendly and the prices favorable. So come in and catch some Firefly of your own.
Mauve: How would you describe Firefly's merchandise?
Ashley Worley: Firefly features fun, out of the ordinary shoes for both men and women. We also have handcrafted accessories from local designers. For example, both Holly Aiken Bags and Iro handbags are based in Raleigh. Jewelry featuring handmade glass beads by LMK designs are made in Wilmington by Lynn Manock.
What are the characteristics of a good pair of shoes?
First and foremost is that they feel good on your feet. Individual shoes feel different on different people, so trying them on is imperative. Also, flexibility of the sole is very important, as well as proper support and fit. Most people don't realize that the fit from the arch to the heel can be even more important than the amount of space at the toe. But most important of all is that they look fabulous.
What is the most atrocious mistake people make when buying shoes?
Shoes that don't fit. No one is going to actually wear shoes that are too small-- ouch! Plus, feet that bulge over the sole of the shoe or hang off the back of a sandal are not attractive.
When putting together shoes with clothing combinations?
It is a mistake to think that shoes have to match an outfit perfectly. You don't want to look like you are wearing a uniform or dressed as a bridesmaid.
What's your best piece of advice when putting together a complete outfit? Highlighting a great pair of shoes?
I love bright-colored shoes worn with a neutral colored outfit; perhaps with just a dash of the shoe color in the earrings or as an accent color in a print or plaid fabric. Many customers shopping at Firefly say to me, "I love these colorful shoes, but what can I wear with them?" There are so many great shades of khaki, olive, beige, brown and gray right now that you can create a great neutral combination to highlight fabulously colorful shoes. That will prevent you looking like you have on your grandma's Easter outfit.
What is your favorite pair of shoes?
My absolute favorite shoes of all time are my dark pink, mid-calf boots by John Fluevog. They have a low square heel, rounded toe, and fit close to the leg. They are so fabulous that I could wear them everyday, even in the summer.
Your favorite "fashion find"?
My bright red, patent, vintage go-go boots, ala Wonder Woman, are hot. I love the attitude that boots in general can portray.
What's a piece of advice you'd like to give to Triangle shoppers about buying shoes?
Have no fear. All it takes is a little attitude to sport a funky, unique pair of shoes. Also, it is usually worth it to pay a few extra dollars to get high quality shoes. They will last longer than the discount variety and your feet will thank you.
What is your projection of upcoming trends in foot fashion?
Designers are using new wild materials and fabrics to fashion classic shapes. This gives the shoe a futuristic and retro look at the same time. For example, faux fur, metallics, patterned canvas and linen, and costume jewelry as ornaments on pumps as well as sneakers. The pointy toe shoe is loosing appeal; fashion-forward folks will sport the square or rounded toe instead. European influence on shoe silhouettes from brands like Spain-based Camper will still continue, as well as Asian influences on fabrics and patterns.