Kelci Stringer, owner of Flatz specialty shoe boutique, is an educated mother of two. A graduate of Ohio State University, Stringer lived in several different cities, has been a shoe buyer for Marshall Fields and Dayton and Hudson and she accomplished it all without wearing high heels everyday. Her new store FLATZ, located at 314 Pharr Rd., Atlanta, Ga., is a sanctuary for women who live stylishly and comfortably. Her love of shoes inspired her to open the boutique in Buckhead, but she says her decision to only offer flats is rooted in something more meaningful.
“Due to the popularity of reality shows, the consensus is that women have to wear eight inch heels and 14 inch bags to be sexy,” Stringer explains. “Being a native Atlantan there was something that came across to me that said ‘What is that about?’, ‘Who does that?’ and ‘What real Southern Belle goes to lunch in eight inch heels and 14 inch bags?’….and they need to be $1,200 a pop.”
The question of what makes a woman feminine fueled her desire to open a store allowing women to find great shoes at a reasonable price, and expand the definitions of sexy and feminine. Stringer confesses, at one time, she accepted the high maintenance standard of womanhood, but life taught her a few long lasting lessons.
“I can go on record of being a victim of buying those shoes at those prices but with time, age and maturity, I realized it is unnecessary and a little bit contrived,” Stringer admits. “I decided I needed to do something about that.”
Her idea resulted in Flatz, a specialty boutique store carrying loafers, ballerina flats, and the popular motorcycle boot, located in the heart of Buckhead. Stringer noticed the lack of shoe stores in Atlanta and felt there was a void of specialty boutiques where women can buy stylish, quality shoes at an affordable cost. Flatz carries lines such as Bed Stu, Frye, Paul Mayer, Ella Moss, Marc Joseph, Modern Vice, Melissa and more. Stringer says she wanted to give women options they can’t find anywhere else. So, she stocked styles you can’t find at the mall, made them available in 70 different colors and offered them in sizes 6-10 at a price point of $80-$400.
“I was trying to think of niche and price point and something a little bit different on how to get people to come to my on its own wings. I thought how can we be sexy as women, but yet sophisticated and a little bit cultured. How do we show all of our experience, exposure, levels of education and various things that we have as women, to be frank, without looking like prostitutes?”
Stringer traveled to NY, L.A., Platform in Las Vegas and Atlanta Shoe Market to select inventory for Flatz. While traveling the country Stringer noticed a reaction from people when she told them she is from Atlanta. The negative connotation associated with Southern culture and realty tv.
“I thought what can I do to represent Atlanta,” Stringer says. “This is not my city, this is not what we’re about. This is not what women of a certain level of affluence are about. I just want to be an outlet for women who want a cute flat.”
Follow Patrice Worthy on twitter @worthypatrice
To see more photos from the Flatz grand opening go to pworthy.com