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May 21, 2022

Queen’s Shoes celebrates 15 years

Fashion Cares runway event returns on April 30

In 2007 local fashion designer Sindy Hernandez opened Queen’s Shoes & More, a small boutique featuring a mix of her own and other designers’ clothing and accessories. 

Hernandez gradually gained a loyal following of customers. And 15 years later, many of them remain, some becoming close friends and even models for her annual fashion shows.

“I’ve met some amazing people on this journey,” Hernandez said. “It’s a big family now.”

Longtime customer Eva Zepeda agreed.

“I started as her customer back at the old store, and now we’re really good friends,” Zepeda said. “I’m really happy for her.”

With the anniversary also comes the return of Fashion Cares, Hernandez’s annual fundraising fashion show benefiting local organizations. The show will be held on April 30 for the first time since 2019, along with the Shopping for a Cause event on April 29 and 30. On those days, 10% of sales at the shop will support Monarch Services, a nonprofit offering crisis response to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

It has not always been an easy ride for Queen’s. In 2017, the shop and a number of other small businesses were booted out of the Crossroads Shopping Center on Main Street for new Kaiser Permanente offices. Then, the shop was hit by Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020.

“Thinking back, it’s a little bittersweet, with all we’ve been through,” Hernandez said. “The eviction … and the pandemic. I’ve been uncertain at times if we would have to close. But the community came together and that support saved us. We are so grateful.”

The pandemic hit more than just Hernandez’s business. The fashion show was canceled in both 2020 and 2021, and Hernandez said she struggled with having Covid two separate times.

“I was feeling so drained, that I had nothing else to give,” she said. “I felt like I lost myself, my passion… everything was gone. I don’t ever want to feel like that again. A lot of women, especially those who are moms, tend to put everyone else before us. We think we need to ‘do it all.’ But I don’t want to overwork myself anymore. I went through a big transition during this pandemic.”

Zepeda said she was “very proud” of Hernandez for bringing the event back.

“The show before Covid might have been her last,” Zepeda said. “For her to bring it back is a pretty big deal.”

Hernandez said that Monarch Services is a cause she truly supports. 

“I have friends and family who are victims,” she said. “I think we all know somebody who is a victim of domestic violence. It’s very important to address, especially during Covid.”

Another aspect of the fundraiser is to raise awareness of the services available to the community, she said.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t know there are places like Monarch that can help them,” she said. “A friend of mine went through something like this … I asked her if she knew about the organization. She didn’t. It’s crazy, there are so many we have here that people just aren’t aware of.”

A new collection from Hernandez’s own clothing line, called Sindy, will be shown at Fashion Cares. It is her first new collection since before the pandemic, and will include revived styles from past collections and items she designed years ago but never put out. 

Designer Sindy Hernandez is celebrating 15 years of her Watsonville boutique, Queen’s Shoes & More. —photo by Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian

“I think that’s one of the most rewarding things for me,” she said. “Queen’s is one thing, but with the Sindy collection, it’s like my baby. When I see people walking by in my garments, that I put together … It’s just a different feeling. It’s personal.”

Finding her place as a designer has been challenging at times, she admitted.

“For a long time, I was thinking, ‘Am I really a designer?’ Because I’m not creating these crazy, avant-garde pieces,” she said. “But no, that’s what I like about my collection—it’s about simplicity, elegance … I have customers who tell me time after time, ‘I’m still wearing that dress I bought from when you first opened!’”

For the first time ever, Fashion Cares will also include a Queen’s Collection, featuring work by other designers whose work is carried in the store. There will be live music, and a food truck owned by a former Queen’s sales rep. A gift basket full of donated items from local, women-owned businesses will be raffled off.

“It’s going to be a big party,” Hernandez said. “It’s our 15th—our quinceañera!”

Hernandez said she is grateful for everyone who has helped her succeed—whether it’s by shopping, posting about Queen’s online, or volunteering to model or be a makeup artist. She also praised her “sewing ladies, Tere and Laura … because without them, putting this together wouldn’t be possible.”

Queen’s Shoes & More is located at 734 East Lake Ave, Ste. 10. The event will be held at the shop on April 30 at 5pm. For information visit queensshoes.net or follow on social media.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.

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