By Damaris Hay
Don't let their statuesque beauty intimidate you. Sure, Terri Coleman, 51, and Tove Nord, 37, are former models, but they're businesswomen, too. Born in Saint Kitts and Sacramento, Calif., respectively, these two women are well-traveled from their modeling careers and speak three languages between them. Since May, when they began to talk about having a store, Coleman and Nord have worked to hone their entrepreneurial skills to open sandal salon Tuccia Di Capri.
For two months last fall, Tuccia Di Capri's team, including trained shoemaker Naomi Kuritani, spent time in Italy learning as much as they could about the craft of shoemaking. Ever-coveting the simple sophistication of Capri-style sandals made famous by devotees like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, Coleman and Nord were convinced all they had to do was find a cobbler to teach them how to make the sandals they hoped to retail.
Who they found was Vincent Failla, one of the few remaining cobblers on the island of Capri and born into a skilled shoemaker family. ''They take a lot of pride in their craftsmanship,'' Nord said. ''We made a deal for money, but he didn't even want the money,'' Coleman added.
After living in Capri, Nord and Coleman returned with firsthand knowledge about their craft. ''How do we bring it, deliver it and translate it?'' Nord asked herself. Though the pricing for their shoe is double the price of a pair bought in Italy, both owners believe that the product merits the price point. By sourcing in different Italian cities like Napoli, Salerno and Casandrino, they are able to offer sandals in various styles and colors at a high quality.
Tuccia Di Capri offers its customers handcrafted leather sandals, individually fitted to each customer's foot and then created in about 25 minutes. The décor is chic and bright with furniture for lounging, including a velvet bench and chairs that swivel, tall white shelving to display the shoes and champagne on hand for customers to sip on.
Cobblers on site are available to guide buyers through the various displays and choices. The opportunity to decide on the type of sandal you desire and have it shaped to your foot precisely is the unique attraction of this concept store just off of Lincoln Road.
Currently, the store offers sandals for young girls and women with European adult sizing ranging from 34 to 43, with the option to choose from three classic soles -- wedge, flat or the kitten heel. After choosing the sole, customers get to decide what type of upper they'd like -- from turquoise leather to intricate Swarovski crystal embellishments to gold metal adornments. Soon, the store will carry four styles of men's sandals in limited sizing, due to popular demand by the store's male shoppers.
Coleman and Nord are often asked whether or not they actually know how to construct the product they're selling. And the answer, they said, was ``Yes! We make it.''
Tuccia di Capri. 1630 Pennsylvania Ave, Miami Beach. 305-534-5865.
Model entrepreneurs: Tuccia Di Capri's Tove Nord and Terri Coleman. Photo: Charles Trainor Jr./miami.com