Katie Ray Johnston is a second generation owner (with dad Rob Wolk) of Sundance Shoes, a local shoe boutique with locations in West Bloomfield and downtown Birmingham. In a world of Prime shipping and free returns, Sundance customers are devoted because of the incredible selection of shoes, handbags, outerwear, and great accessories, but more importantly, because of the welcoming atmosphere of the store and Katie’s warm and inviting personality.
Sundance Shoes carries top brands like Jeffrey Campbell, Eileen Fisher, Vince, Frye, among others and Katie has a great eye for up and coming brands and designers, too, like InkDetroit, RebelSoul Apparel. The store is so beautiful and well designed, it’s a place you want to take your time looking at each pair of shoes, accessory, or bag, because of the unique mix of products Katie curates.
We recently connected with Katie to find out more about the behind-the-scenes of running her business, as well as a peek into her home life and tips and trends she is excited about in the coming season.
Sundance Shoes in downtown Birmingham is a chic shoe boutique.
When and what inspired you to get into this business?
Rob and Edie Wolk (my parents) raised my brother Jimmy and I to always follow our hearts. At an early age I fell in love with the shoe business, growing up at my dads shoe stores in Northland and Fairlane Mall. I knew back then I wanted to be in business with my dad. We are the best team and work so well together. I love everything about it….fashion, buying, customers, my staff. The team is amazing and I definitely could not do it with out them.
My husband Jeff also inspires me, he has always been my number one fan, supporting me in business.
Katie’s dad Rob Wolk, with her daughter.
What are the top 3 lessons you have learned throughout your business journey?
1. Work hard everyday, you will achieve what you want if you give it your all.
2. Customer Service-Listening to our customer and always having them leave happy.
3. Love what you do!
Tell us about your typical day:
Kiss my husband, have a cup of coffee, wake up the kids, get everyone to school, get to work by 9. Before the store opens I like to organize my day. I leave work around 4:30, catch a yoga class and make it home for dinner and bedtime!
Katie and her kids.
What has been (or still is) your biggest business challenge? How do you overcome it?
Opening a new store…it’s a ton of work but so worth it! I work hard every day to make sure SUNDANCE SHOES can be the best store it can be.
What do you love about your job?
Everything! It’s my happy place.
What is Sundance Shoes all about? How do you want customers to feel when they enter your space (or website)?
When customers enter the store I want them to feel a sense of beauty, fashion, calmness, and happiness. I want them to feel comfortable to shop and have a conversation and when they leave feel so good about themselves.