Connie Hawley really, really loves shoes and sees them as art.
She has now brought that vision to life on Zumbrota's Main Street in her new store, Luya Shoes and Other Fine Things. The 4,000-square-foot store carries footwear of all kinds for women, men and young children.
"Shoes are very sculptural. Even if you aren't wearing it, you can see it in a box or in a closet and it is beautiful. Shoes make people happy," Hawley said.
Since these "sculptures" are ones that people wear, she says it's equally important for them to be as comfortable and durable as they are attractive.
"I've tried to find brands and styles you can't find anywhere else in the area," Hawley said.
She has hand-made moccasins from Spring Grove and popular brands that include OTBT, Rieker, Naot, Corky's Footwear and Corral boots. Luya also carries jewelry, belts and purses, including Baggallini bags. For men, Hawley also has conditioners for beards as well as related gift baskets and accessories.
Adding to the art gallery feel of her store, she displays her products on cabinets and shelves refinished by Jim Hahler of Hahler Restoration and Design. She also has artwork by three local artists for sale on the walls.
The one big question remaining is: What's the story behind the name Luya?
Hawley explained that she has talked about opening a shoe store for many years. Part of that dream also was playing on her last name of Hawley and calling the shop something like HawleyLuya, pronounced like hallelujah.
"I realized it was kind of crazy and a bit too long and too hard to say," she said. "But I still liked Luya, so that's what I went with."