Blending street style and fine art sensibilities, French-born Magali Jay-Snyder has masterminded the ultimate marriage of fashion and function with Milo Shoes and Gallery, a custom-painted sneaker store located in San Diego’s funky North Park neighborhood. In just eight months, Milo was born into a futuristically furnished storefront space and now features twenty artists’ work appearing on its inventory, a mix of snazzy Vans, Nikes, Converse and Superga shoes.
Milo marks Jay-Snyder’s second venture into the business world; in addition to Milo, she also owns Santos, a San Diego coffee shop she purchased in August of 2004, and has been running ever since. Shoes, about which Jay-Snyder is passionate, fit naturally into the business plan and the Milo concept has been blossoming ever since.
Format: Tell me a little bit about the idea for the shop and how you got it.
Jay-Snyder: Sure. Originally I wanted to open a really, really, really cool sneaker store and an art gallery. I just wanted it to be this place with shows and DJs and cool events and stuff like that. And then my concept evolved a little bit. I thought, â€œ’I love art [and] I love sneakers; let’s just put it together.â€ There’s a huge market for it online, there’s just no shop, at least not in San Diego. So I decided to just do custom sneakers, which automatically makes it a gallery.
Format: What was the opening like?
Jay-Snyder: It was insane. It was insane and there were about 400 people here. We had two DJs that were spinning the whole night. Tons of people were spilling out into the street. Throughout the night it was non-stop- non-stop.
It was a great time. Champagne; everybody hanging outâ€¦ obviously all the local artists were here, and that was really awesome. It was a fun night.
Format: How did you find your artists?
Jay-Snyder: Mostly through Myspace and friends. Most of them I found online or on Myspace.
Format: And who are they?
Jay-Snyder: Some of them are shoe customizers. We’ve got a lot of people from the US obviously, [Also] France, Italy, Canada, England, [and] Norway. A lot of them are artists. Like this one guy who lives in Canada. He’s actually French and he’s a graphic designer but he works also on Vans and high heels.
Format: You should start stocking some high heels!
Jay-Snyder: I know, I know! I’m actually trying to get him down here. I’m trying to get him down here with his high heels to do a show.
Format: Tell me about some of the stock you have here.
Jay-Snyder: This one artist does kind of random stuff. His name is Mag, he’s from New York, and I found him online. I like the fact that he works on Converse. He does a lot of bands. I asked him to do a North Park series [since the] shop is in North Park, so he did those.
Format: So he’s kind of a featured artist for the moment?
Jay-Snyder: Yeah, him and Anna Fleisher. She works on Vans and all her shoes are linked. They’re a series of three, four, five pairs. If you buy your own pair, it’s totally unique and original, but somewhere out there somebody else is wearing a pair that is kind of linked to yours as well.
Format: Oh, and you’ve got to tell me about the Obama shoes.
Jay-Snyder: Oh, the Obama shoes! I just got them in three weeks ago and they were made by Melissa Cook. It’s all painted on, [all] the details. They have his face on both of the shoes, and it says â€œhopeâ€ and â€œchange.â€ They’re a pair of Nike Blazers. Obviously the colors are red, white and blue, and [Melissa] even put laces that are red, white and blue in as well. It’s a whole thing.
Format: What are some of your favorites that have come through the shop?
Jay-Snyder: Let’s see… One of my favorite artists is a French guy- Endo.
He works on Vans high tops, and he’s just so detailed in his work. He works with pens and there’s a pair in particular that I love with flowers and fish. They’re just so colourful and beautiful, and the detail is amazing because it’s small. There’s not a lot of room to work on the leather part of the shoes.
Another series that I have in here from Qustom Queen, who’s from England, she did a series of heat sensitive sneakers for Milo, totally exclusively to us.
They change colour; some of them when you touch them [and some], if you put them on when you go outside in the sun.
Format: And what’s up your sleeve for Milo in the future?
Jay-Snyder: We’ll see. I definitely want to put Milo on the national map, if not the international map. There’s so much that can be done. And from shoes you can do… all these artists also work on other things like hats and shirts and things like that, so it just opens up to so much. People are always going to need shoes so they should just have really cool, original shoes. But I have big plans.
For more information on Milo Shoes and Gallery, please visit their Myspace page.