Style Junkie: A perfect match

A couple of shoe designers found their ‘other half’ at work and life. Shelly Satat and Eillon Kombor are the owners of CoupleOf.

shoe 311 (photo credit: Keren Tagar)
shoe 311
(photo credit: Keren Tagar)
The beauty of shoes is that they are never lonely.
Unlike humans, shoes are made in pairs, married from birth. Though socks often lose their partners in laundry mishaps, the tie that binds shoes to each other is resilient.
In the early days of their now thriving business CoupleOf, Shelly Satat and Eillon Kombor recognized a certain similarity between their bond and that of the footwear they designed and manufactured in a small workshop in Jerusalem. “That’s where the name for our company came from,” explains Satat. She strolled around CoupleOf’s Rehov Dizengoff location, rearranging the sandals and handbags. “There are a couple of shoes and we are, ourselves, a couple, both in business and in life.”
Satat and Kombor met while they were studying at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. After graduating, they put the two-heads-are-better-than-one theory to the test with a small, limited edition collection of women’s shoes, born equally of each partner’s talents. That was seven years ago, when boutique shoe companies scarcely existed in Israel. This trend, which CoupleOf is happy to have started, has caught on like wildfire in the past five years, bringing a long list of local shoemakers to the forefront of Israeli fashion.
Last year CoupleOf was granted a prestigious design award from the Culture and Sport Ministry. Today, they are the proud owners of three stores and have recently secured a deal with American retail giant Anthropologie, who will sell four CoupleOf designs in the winter 2011/12 season. They are also the parents of four children, ranging from five to 11 years old.
Satat and Kombor collaborate fully on all decisions concerning CoupleOf. Both parties oversee the entire creation process of a new collection, from concept to execution to sales.
“Over the years we have learned how not to fight, how to give each other space to design and how not to get our feelings hurt,” explains Satat.
Beyond the shoes, Satat and Kombor take full artistic responsibility over each of their retail outlets.
“We designed all three stores, which are not identical but are more like sisters. They are all white, to give honor to the shoes,” says Satat.
Since the inauguration of their brand, Satat and Kombor have prided themselves on providing comfortable footwear produced from high quality leather. They have developed an aesthetic of their own, including a number of refined staples such as a twist on the classic Oxford shoe and a chic answer to the flip-flop.
Their work often challenges the boundary between body and sole of the shoe, with extended strips of leather wrapping from the bottom to the toe tip. “We love playing with soles; we feel it gives another dimension to the design,” says Satat as she picks up a quirky, pale pink ballet flat from the shelf.
This season, after years of fairly conservative color schemes, CoupleOf introduced an array of vibrant hues. Many of these dashing blue and red tones are part of the CoupleOf Zoo line. This collection features several models whose inspiration was drawn from zebras, parrots, sharks and fish. This playful limited edition line has helped in expanding CoupleOf’s already long list of loyal customers.
In addition, Satat and Kombor put out high heels for the first time this year. “This season I found myself desperate for colors and for heels. It’s a known fact that designers first create for themselves, ‘What would I wear? What would I buy?’” says Satat, who is admittedly CoupleOf’s No. 1 client (she wears only Couple- Of shoes exclusively from the current season). “Before, we had a tomboy thing going.
And I feel that these heels have opened us up to a whole new crowd.”
Beyond seeking out new clientele, Satat and Kombor are constantly in search of new talent to work with. This season, they have teamed up with Aya Bentur, whom they met while Bentur was working on her final project for university. “We have worked with Bezalel students before.
We help them to expand their final project into a commercial line. It helps to show them that it is possible to make it in this field,” explains Satat.
Bentur’s designs, which are now available at CoupleOf, employ a technique known as bunching, where leather is squeezed together by hand to create interesting patterns.
Satat and Kombor felt that this innovation was the perfect extra touch to their spring collection.
CoupleOf has also brought the delicate and precise illustrations of Keren Tagar into their stores. Tagar’s canvas pieces hint at the story of CoupleOf’s designs while adding a charming, graphic element to the white space.
Satat admits that staying afloat in the shoe industry keeps her on her toes, so to speak. “Designing shoes is incredibly tricky. Unlike with clothes, once the shoe is finished, you can’t touch it anymore. You can’t tailor or make little adjustments, so it has to be done right the first time,” she says. “But we love the challenge. The more challenging the project is, the better.”
CoupleOf stores are located in Tel Aviv at Rehov Dizengoff 207; in Kfar Saba on the first floor of Mall G; and in Jerusalem at Rehov Hillel 4. For more information, visit