To say this is a big week for Aida Stenholm is a serious understatement.
The popular shoemaker is opening Killasumaq, which means “beautiful moon” in Quecha, a language in her native Peru.
Stenholm planned to open on Wednesday, but she then learned a citizenship test she thought would happen next year is scheduled for Thursday.
So she’s busy studying in between setting up the store for a Saturday opening in the longtime C Major Guitars space at 110 S. Hillside just south of Douglas.
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“I feel so proud to be here,” she says. “It has a lot of history here.”
Stenholm, who grew up sharing shoes with her seven sisters, made her first pair of shoes from cardboard and twine when she was about seven years old.
Now, she designs shoes that have a combination of Peruvian leather and hand-woven cloth. Currently, workers in Peru manufacture the shoes that Stenholm has been selling through area shows.
“I have a lot of support from people of Wichita,” she says.
They’re who encouraged her to open her own shop.
Stenholm hasn’t been attending shows while getting her store ready, so she has a fair amount of inventory.
She wants to have everything she needs to manufacture the shoes upstairs at her shop in 2018.
“By next year, I’m going to have every size.”
Stenholm sells mostly women’s shoes but some men’s as well.
When she has leftover material, Stenholm makes other things, such as clutches and belts.
“Everything is handmade,” she says of the store.
As she and her husband have been working to get the building ready, Stenholm says people have been stopping by.
They stop, they say, ‘Hey, what are you making?’ ”
There have been lots of encouraging comments, too.
“It’s amazing,” Stenholm says. “People are so nice.”
It confirms what she said when Stephanie Wise of John T. Arnold Associates showed her the space.
“Yeah, that is the right spot for me.”