QUEEN VILLAGE (WPVI) -- If you're searching for one-of-a-kind shoes, make your next stop BUS STOP Boutique, where founder Elena Brennan's shoe designs will set you apart from the crowd.
She uses unique materials, like cow hair, on shoes in her Tie Dye collection.
"I love to use different textures," said Brennan.
She says she also has fun with "bright pops of colors."
She has a shoe made of recycled fish skin that she says her customers have named "the mermaid shoe," which has a sustainable aspect to it.
"I like to do things a little bit different, I'm not your conventional shoe designer," said Brennan.
London-born Brennan moved to the United States in 1985, working in advertising for 27 years before deciding to make a change.
"I've always loved shoes," she said.
She worked her advertising day job while operating her boutique on weekends, until she could gradually transition from one career to the next.
She officially opened BUS STOP Boutique on Fabric Row in Philadelphia's Queen Village neighborhood in April 2007.
Brennan carries a lot of European designers, but in 2015 she also started designing. She launched her own BUS STOP X shoe brand that is limited edition and exclusive.
Her shoes are only available for purchase in her boutique and online through her website.
"My signature shoe is a women's oxford shoe," said Brennan.
Through the years, she's added different shoes, like sneakers and ankle boots.
"I don't produce a lot of them, so women do feel unique wearing them," she says of her shoes.
She releases one or two collections each year. Her most recent is named LOUD!
"They're very colorful," said Brennan. "They're named after crystals and gemstones."
One pair of shoes in hues of green is called Emerald. A nature-inspired spring collection will be available in April.
When Brennan designs, she first sketches the shoes and looks at different swatches she requests from leather tanneries.
"I work in collaboration with ALL BLACK Footwear and the shoes are made at their factory," said Brennan.
In addition to shoes, she also carries accessories at the boutique, such as handbags, socks and hats.
And her second act, Brennan has earned some prestigious awards. The Best Business Women Awards named her a Gold Award winner in 2021 for International Businesswoman of the Year.
She also has some advice for other entrepreneurs.
"Follow your gut instinct, follow your heart, be passionate about what you do," she said.
Brennan says by doing those things, she was able to turn her love of designing into a successful business.
"And I feel really honored to have been in business for 16 years on Fabric Row," she says.
For more information:
BUS STOP Boutique
727 S. 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147