Sefte Sister: Megan Papay, co-founder of FREDA Salvador

When we started Sefte, we not only wanted to design beautiful products, but create a company and community that supports women. This informs every aspect of our business. In 2018, we’re formalizing our “Sefte Sisters” program to highlight the women and fellow entrepreneurs who inspire us each day with their sense of purpose, businesses and craft.

This feels particularly important in light of #timesup, #metoo, the persistent wage gap and lack of venture capital for women-led companies. We have the incredible power to shape the future we want to see If we come together as a sisterhood.

With that, we’d love to introduce Megan Papay, the co-founder of FREDA Salvador, a collection of handmade footwear. We love the inclusiveness of the FREDA Salvador brand and everything Megan does to support fellow entrepreneurs.  The shoes are gorgeous too!

Tell us about the beginning of FREDA Salvador and your background?

I studied costume design at the University of Florida because I knew I wanted to go into fashion and they didn’t have a program. Costume design in the end was such a cool outlook on design, because we learned so much about the psychology of dress and how fashion tells a story in an of itself. My experience before FREDA was mixed. I worked for Calvin Klein out of college, a small fashion PR firm, and I started a small label of accessories.

I eventually moved to San Francisco with my husband and worked for another footwear company.  I met Cristina, my FREDA business partner, there and we decided to branch off on our own and start a footwear company that offered cool shoes that fit well and are pound-the-pavement worthy.

Sefte Sister Megan Papay of FREDA Salvador

Can you tell us why you think a sisterhood is important?

Yes!  Now more than ever. Women supporting women is something I am very passionate about.  I am raising a daughter and she is 10.  She’s had some challenges already of girls being mean.  This makes me so upset!  Why at a young age do girls think to knock each other down?  

Therefore, I am trying to do my best to teach a model of women supporting each other and lifting each other up! For my daughter, my husband and I coach her soccer team. For FREDA, we just started a young designer workshop where 14 girls come every Friday to learn about the design process, marketing, production, etc. I want to give them the tools to feel confident, but also to support each other. One of the things we focus on the most is the positive feedback as the girls share their designs.

For FREDA, Cristina and I are passionate about supporting our peers. We have a feature called FREDA Girl where we highlight women and what they are passionate about. Lawyers, artists, teachers, doctors, writers...a menagerie of diverse women all doing what they love. It feels good to publicly support these ladies and share their story.  They are so inspiring to us, and we get so much feedback that they are inspiring to our community.

Sefte Sister Megan Papay of FREDA Salvador

What keeps you going everyday - either in your craft or going about life?

I really love what I do. I love the design aspect, I love marketing, our team, our customers.  There are certainly challenges, but the passion I have for the brand and product makes it all worth it.  

Tell us about the VCL Project? What was the inspiration? Why now?

My New Year’s Resolution for 2016 was to only purchase clothes that were vintage, consigned or locally made, which can be “local’ anywhere...just a small business. I found it to be a really easy year and so much fun. I kept up with it in 2017 and started The VCL Project a few months ago, to make a public pledge to continue this commitment. I am a very introverted person and don’t like getting my photograph taken, but The VCL Project has really helped me get over that as well, which I appreciate.  

It feels good to make a stand on supporting previously owned or slow fashion, because it became way too easy to buy fun, cheap stuff at Zara, for instance. It just became gross to me. 

And, then with FREDA, I know first hand the amount of work (blood, sweat and tears) it takes to run a small business, so I want to support other brands like ours. I was recently at a dinner party and two separate people came up to me and said The VCL project inspired them to change the way they shopped for the Holidays. They were committed to buying gifts from a small, local brand.  That’s pretty amazing!

Sefte Sister Megan Papay of FREDA Salvador

Do you have a “sister” who has propped you up personally or professionally?

I have a big sister and she is amazing. She is nine years older, so I have always looked up to her. Now that we each have our own families our relationship has changed into a deeper friendship. Our kids are really close, which is so special. What I love about her and our relationship the most is the lack of judgement. She is so supportive and nothing fazes her. She always has positive and encouraging things to say.

Sefte Sister Megan Papay of FREDA Salvador

Where do you seek sanctuary - to dream, meditate, be creative or just find me time?

I built a little sacred place for myself in my attic. I found an old boom box in the dumpster by my office, so it’s the only electronic allowed up there.

I threw plywood on the floor and found some cheap furniture and rugs at an estate sale.  Hung Christmas lights, a macrame chair from Mexico and that’s pretty much it! I was going to try and hide all of the things that we store in the attic, but I actually like it out. Old toys, baby clothes, my wedding dress. They are all such amazing memories and that’s what an attic is for. Remember Clark from Christmas vacation watching the family movies in the fur when he got locked in the attic!!! :) I listen to cd’s, read, meditate, just chill there.

Sefte Sister Megan Papay of FREDA Salvador

Where do you find inspiration for your work and for your life?

Travel and relaxation. I love the beach and simply sitting in the sun re-energizes me. I also love the mountains and being by a river. The outdoors. It makes me so calm and clears my head so I can focus on what I need to when the time is right.

Do you have a quote you live by?

The harder you work, the luckier you get. Cristina’s dad told us this early on.