Freshly opened in Brussels, Caramel is a shoe heaven. The stores carries brands like PèPè, Nathalie Verlinden, il Gufo, Petit Nord, Petit by Sofie Schnoor. Owner Ludovica Zagrebelsky explains her philosophy and her choices.

How did the idea of Caramel come to you? Caramel is a project I had in the back of my mind since I started buying shoes for my daughters. For many years I kept looking, inquiring, asking questions, tracking what’s new and here I am, 13 years later with boutique and my shoe selection.

How does your store look like and how do you welcome clients?The store is rather small, all white with a comfy grey couch. Clients can take the time to look at the shoe selection, enjoy a tea or a coffee, try the shoes on their children’s feet. But they can also just pop up quickly, take a pair to try it home and change if it’s not the right fit. As many times as needed.  I want people to feel nice and welcome.

Can you tell us more about the brands you selected for Caramel? On top of my list comes PèPè, the cutest Italian shoe line. I love the retro-meets-contemporary feel and the strong “child” spirit. With Pepe shoes, children look elegant and stylish in a natural way, they don’t look like disguised as little adults. Il Gufo, also made in Italy, is more fashion driven, but nothing too bling or too shiny like Italian can sometimes be.  The shoes are extremely well done. Nathalie Verlinden is a Belgium designer from Antwerp who creates simple and sober shoes produced in Italy with vegetal and organic dies. A real luxury for children. Her shoes are wonderful objects to look at and to touch. Then I carry L’artigiano italiano (beautiful shoes, simple with an attention to detail), C’est entre maman et moi (French brand produced in Spain so a little cheaper but very cute), Petit Nord (Rabbit or sheepskin slippers, hats and chapkas), Petit by Sofie Schnoor, Andrea Montelpare, Chupeta. They are all expensive shoes because they are extremely beautiful and well made, in Europe and often by artisans.  I like the idea of paying for the quality, not for the brand. You will never find, for instance, a black leather pattent sneaker with a big name written on it in my store.