In Store: Heart and Sole

Because the product was a completely new concept, the Cucé sisters decided to start small. Kathleen took on the task of working out the contracts to present to various universities, which they chose based on a mix of heavy licensing research, notoriety of the schools’ sports teams, and the universities they felt a certain connection with, like the nearby Virginia Tech. In fact, after sending out 21 proposals to launch a line of boots with their school’s logo, 20 came back with a resounding “YES”—and the first response came from those enthusiastic Hokies at Virginia Tech. With lots of positive feedback under their belt, Love Cucé Shoes launched in June 2010. The twins, only 29 years old, were relying on Kristina’s business and finance degree from ODU and their determined, hard-working spirit. “We’re entrepreneurs at heart, born and raised in the restaurant business. Our parents have owned several restaurants,” says Kristina, and they were both there, side by side, making sure everything ran smoothly.Every good invention stems from a certain need. Such was the case for two identical twin sisters, Kathleen and Kristina Cucé, born and raised in Virginia Beach and die-hard Colts fans. “We love sports and each season we’re always really excited to get the newest apparel and merchandise. But every time we’d go to a Colt’s game, we always noticed our shoes never went with the whole ensemble,” says Kristina. This need (namely, shoes to show school spirit), has sparked a nationwide shoe revolution for fashionistas and sports fans alike, with the firstever collection of rain boots and faux fur boots sporting university logos in high-fashion looks.

In fact, the success of the business is very much a testament to the way these sisters work together and balance each other out on a daily basis. “We’ve worked with each other our whole lives. We’ve lived together, we’ve traveled together. There isn’t anyone I’d rather be doing it with. And even though we’re identical twins, we do bring different things to the table; she’s really good at speaking with people and marketing, whereas I’m really good at behind-thescenes with paperwork and contracts and coming up with ideas,” Kathleen points out. “When she has really bad days, I pick her up. And when I have really bad days, she picks me up,” Kristina adds.

And it’s a good thing they work so well together—they are currently the only two employees in the company, handling every little detail from online orders to picking out the faux fur swatches to guarantee a comfortable, chic and animal-friendly line, which is of utmost importance to the twins. “We’re vegetarian, and we’re really passionate about everything in this collection being ethical. Everything is all synthetic suedes, synthetic furs, animal-free glues everything. We want to do it right 100 percent.”

But don’t think quality is sacrificed in any sense. Synthetic suedes are slowly surpassing real animal skins in quality and even cost more to use. And while that pair of Uggs may look cute, their product won’t stand up to the wear and tear and snowy/rainy conditions— prime collegiate weather—that a pair of Cucé Shoes can handle with ease. Because they’ve added a layer of neoprene in between the synthetic suede, “you could put a water hose on them and not feel a thing,” Kristina says with a laugh.

It’s that light-hearted attitude and drive for excellence that keep these sisters always striving for more—ways to better their collection, new concepts, and of course, new universities to add to their lineup. In the future, they have big hopes to be involved in major league sports and add a lot more colleges in the upcoming seasons. For the Fall 2011 collection, they are still finetuning their roster, but there’s one team they know they’ll be adding without a doubt. “We definitely know we really want ODU to be a part of the collection. We both graduated from ODU, and with their new football team it seems like they’re getting a strong following,” says Kristina. Sounds like the perfect accessory for the upcoming school year—and that goes for students, alumni, school spirited moms and anyone who’s a fan of Big Blue!

Check out the full list of universities and keep a lookout for the launch of their Fall 2011 line by visiting their website at www.LoveCucé, and make sure to be a fan of Cucé Shoes on Facebook. The future is looking sunny for Love Cucé Shoes, but with boots like those, a little rain isn’t a bad thing either!

For more Style articles like this, please see below:

September 2010
Genuine Goldsmith: Hank Viccellio handcrafts his original jewelry collection in Yorktown's Riverwalk. By Kelsey Clayton


October 2010
Baby Love: Local mom turns her passion for crafting into success with an online store for tots. By Kelsey Clayton


November-December 2010
The Gift Guru: If you can dream it, Please and Thank You can perfectly package it.


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