If you know fashion, you know Elizabeth Todd. The style maven began her retail adventures in a closet-sized space on South Royal Street that has grown into one of the region’s top destinations for both men and women’s design. It all began with The Shoe Hive, which celebrated its 20th anniversary Oct. 12 at the boutique now located on South Fairfax Street.
“My friend owned Hysteria, which was located in that original space, but she was moving and called me,” Todd recalled. “I always said Old Town needed a shoe store but I didn’t have a plan and this was not very thought out – it was all very spontaneous and here we are 20 years later.”
Todd opened The Shoe Hive to rave reviews in 2003, quickly outgrowing the original space before moving to 127 South Fairfax Street in 2009. She has expanded her brand, which now includes The Hive ready-to-wear clothing for women and Yellow Jacket designs for men, both located in the 300 block of Cameron Street.
Originally from Ohio, the longtime Alexandria resident does all her own buying, proving she has an eye for in-demand designs that offer both comfort and style to her discerning customers.
“I try to find the best that each brand offers each season,” Todd said of the designers that she works with. “I like to work with smaller labels that are family owned or female owned – that drives a lot of it.”
Armed with a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University, Todd expected to be a writer for a fashion glossy. But when the opportunity came to open her own business, she didn’t hesitate.
“My advice to anyone thinking of opening a business is to just do it,” Todd said. “The hardest part about starting a business is exactly that – starting it. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress -- you just have to do the best that you can and figure it out as you go. Also make sure you have access to working capital. That is what got us through COVID.”
Tackling the challenges of COVID included expanding The Hive on Cameron Street and adding an option for online shopping.
‘The first few months of COVID were rough but Alexandria has a very supportive business community,” Todd said. “Customers were really supportive and wanted us to be here when it was all over. So we hustled and we pivoted but with the support of the community we figured it out.”
The Shoe Hive, 127 South Fairfax Street. 703-548-7103, www.theshoehive.com