Japp’s OTR cocktail queen Molly Wellmann is a shoe connoisseur
Before knowing her as the cocktail queen of Cincinnati, Molly Wellmann lived about a thousand lives.
The owner of Japp’s in Over-the-Rhine is a proud seventh-generation Cincinnadian and well-known history buff who grew up wanting to be a fashion designer. It seems that she did everything except. During our half-hour conversation, I found out that she studied to be a jeweler, sold wedding dresses, worked in a nightclub, and even went to school to become a dietician.
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But it was her stint in boutiques selling luxury shoes that transformed her – and now, her home near Fairview Park.
The shoe wall
One of its walls, from floor to ceiling, is covered with hundreds of shoes.
Four hundred pairs, to be exact. With 100 more in stock. It’s part decoration, part display, and she’ll even admit it: a real obsession.
They are as colorful and quirky as Molly herself.
The collection began in the late 90s when Molly landed a coveted spot in Chanel’s shoe department at Union Square in San Francisco. “I could not believe it !” Molly said. Not bad for a West Side kid who used to work at Express.
The work aroused curiosity. “I just started to understand how shoes fit, how they are made, and the difference between luxury shoes and cheaper shoes.” Very quickly, Prada poached her.
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“I was full commission. Apparently, I’m a very good salesperson,” she admits. “I’ve been really good at selling shoes. This is where my passion for them comes from.
The more money she earned, the more shoes she bought.
Back to Cincinnati
Before leaving San Francisco, she took on another side job that ended up changing her life.
“A friend of mine opened a restaurant and asked me if I wanted to eat out a few days a week. I had never been in the service industry,” she said.
“Somehow I got thrown behind the bar and the rest is history.”
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When she returned to Cincinnati, she decided to quit sales and jewelry and stay behind the bar. “I’m covered in tattoos and I have my own style. And I don’t really want to change that.
She wanted to bring that sense of style to a Cincinnati bar scene that she knew she could elevate. “There were really no cocktail bars here.”
The shoes made the return trip with her. At least most of them. “There are shoes I still regret getting rid of,” she admits.
No, she doesn’t have a favourite. But Molly grabbed a pair of red and purple Fluevog boots and a huge smile spread across her face. I admit that I had never heard of the brand. I think she liked my ignorance. She explained in detail why these luxury shoes are so special. But she will tell you that they are all special.
This is also how she sees her customers at Japp’s. And somehow, she finds that creating cocktails uses the same lessons she learned decades ago selling luxury shoes.
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“When you walk into Chanel and Prada, they want to give you an experience. They really want that,” she explains. “They also want to build a relationship…I kind of wanted to do that with the bartender. creating an experience and giving it a luxurious feel even though I was using simple ingredients.
With that, she showed me her collection of vintage jewelry, on display from floor to ceiling in her bathroom.
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“It’s my favorite thing to do besides cocktails!” she said. “One day you’ll come by for a bourbon and we’ll talk about shoes. She can’t help but create an experience, even in her own home.
Kathrine is always up for a bourbon and some fancy shoes, and you can sign up for her newsletter at https://profile.cincinnati.com/newsletters/manage/.