When it's quiet at , owner Sindy Hernandez slips behind the counter to sit at her sewing machine and work on her clothing line.
Designing her own elegant-yet-chic clothing has long been a passion of Hernandez. She will showcase her work at , where her clothing shop sits between an aquarium store and a martial arts studio.
Inside Queen's, colors pop off the clothing racks, where Hernandez's dresses are mingled with clothing from other designers she loves. Boots, heels and wedges line the walls, and belts and jewelry sparkle from the displays. The sleek leather couch and two high-backed wicker chairs in the center of the store gives the shop the feel of a San Francisco boutique.
Hernandez opened Queen's five years ago, after she realized she'd rather go in to business for herself in her adopted home town than sell her designs to those boutiques in the city.
"I love fashion too much," admits Hernandez, 30.
She immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico at age 14 and attended local schools: Pajaro Middle, Watsonville High and San Jose State, where she earned a degree in television production.
Hernandez didn't end up using that credential.
"I was just self-taught," Hernandez said. "My love for fashion was just too powerful."
Ten years ago, Hernandez started designing her own clothes. It took three years before she sold a piece. She opened Queen's as the economy tanked, but business has been steady, she said.
She produces small quantities to keep her clothing line unique. Most are made by Hernandez herself, in the shop. One woman helps out with the sewing from time to time, she said.
"I like to design comfortable pieces," Hernandez said.
That means adding pockets, and avoiding zippers and buttons, though don't expect to find sweats in her store.
"I like to be sexy but still sophisticated ... It's for the girl who likes to look on-trend, fashionable, timeless," Hernandez said, adding that she likes to design for "real people."
Most of her customers are women in their mid-20s, on up to about age 50, she said. But this weekend she'll start appealing to a younger crowd: Hernandez is launching a line of little girls' clothing. She has a 1 1/2-year-old daughter.
The new girls' line will debut during the Saturday fashion show and "shopping for a cause" event. The fun starts at 7 p.m. in front of Queen's, 1939 Main St. A portion of all sales from the evening will be donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. (The fall fashion show benefited the American Cancer Society.)
Learn more about Hernandez and her store online at www.queenshoes.net.