KiraKira means Bling Bling in Japanese. Why Japanese, in particular?
A few years ago, my husband and I were traveling in Japan and we visited Harajuku, which is known for its colorful fashion and culture. It was there that I came across the word “kirakira” which means bling bling or shiny and glittery. I love anything that shines and sparkles (glitter was one of my wedding colors and yes, it is a color!), and the term stuck with me ever since. Once I decided to start this brand, the name choice was obvious!
How did you get your start in fashion? Did you always want to own your own brand?
Shoes changed my life. I’ve always loved them, but it wasn’t until I got the question “What’s your name again?” that my life path would be altered forever. It all started when I went to a networking event one night. Normally these events are the worst, but this night was particularly good. I met this group of people and we were really vibing, but when we got to say our goodbyes they all looked at me and asked “What’s your name again?” My heart sank. We had just been besties for the last three hours and not one person remembered my name. I felt completely invisible.
I immediately thought that if I was wearing a pair of J-shaped heels, they would have remembered my name. I wanted to be memorable.
I came home and started searching for J-shaped heels! I researched customized footwear that showcases your name, initials or your message. I wanted shoes to be remembered by… and nothing existed. So I decided to build the shoes myself. I started taking apart heels – literally sawing heels off of hundreds of pairs of shoes! I studied heel construction and set out to create a custom design that also provided extra comfort through arch and heel support.
From basic Internet research to holding a prototype in your hands, what was the journey like?
With limited business experience, no background in fashion and not a single contact in the industry, it was extremely challenging trying to make this dream a reality. From constantly hearing the word “no” to quite literally not knowing what my next step should be at so many points in the process, I am incredibly proud that I was able to manifest this dream into reality!
After creating my prototypes, I met with every manufacturer that would take a meeting with me (mostly owned by men) but no one took KiraKira Couture’s unique heel design seriously at first. I had a patented design that provided a more comfortable heel option by offering extra support for the arch and heel of your foot, but no one wanted to change the construction of how a high heel shoe was made.
I was met with constant rejection and it certainly took a toll on my spirits. I had to rely on maintaining my fiercely undaunted state of mind, trusting my instincts and believing in the value and benefit my product brought to women. Eventually, I met a manufacturer whose wife happened to be at the office that day. The owner’s wife agreed to try the shoe on and within seconds she was convincing her husband that this was a shoe he needed to make!
As a fashion outsider, what I didn’t know turned out to be my greatest asset. Not knowing the way things “should” be done allowed me to be innovative, and disruptive, and break the status quo. And I was able to invent something new in the process.
Now celebrating KiraKira Couture’s launch five years later blows my mind because I never expected one event would lead me to where I am going now. All I did was take the first step and I believe every woman can follow the same path successfully.
Granted, I ultimately decided to launch my line with “F” and “U” instead of “J”, but we’ll get there!
Hi, my name is Jenn and I am a shoeista shoeaholic! Literally. Growing up, I lined my bookshelves with shoes instead of books. I wrote my college essay on how life is like a shoe and how different shoes represented different stages of my existence. For me, waking up and putting on something that makes me feel beautiful is a big part of making me feel confident throughout the day, and choosing the perfect shoe is absolutely essential. As everyone knows, the right shoe can make or break any outfit!
Your shoes have a real edge; they embody haute couture and chic style, yet comfort is a major aspect of these designs. How did you figure out the balance between chic style and comfort?
The goal of the shoe line is to make every woman sparkle and be memorable, both literally and figuratively. However, if a shoe isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to wear them very often. I mean, how many pairs of shoes do you own that never make it out of your closet? You love them but you can’t wear them, yet you can’t NOT have them. All we want is for women to love their shoes and be able to wear them! We want you to always sparkle, so our innovation comes via our patented and uniquely constructed heel design that provides amazing support and comfort.
Other than comfort, what informs your design decisions?
Initially, my goal of designing footwear was focused on creating something memorable. As I began creating the F.U. Fiercely Undaunted line, I discovered that I also found my voice through that process. Shoes are my superpower. I use my shoes as an anchor, as my superhero cape, I put them on and they help me feel more confident and powerful and strong. No matter the challenge, I can achieve anything as long as I take that first step.
I want to share my superhero power with the world. Being unapologetically ourselves is our unique gift to the world and reminding women to celebrate that fact greatly informs our design decisions.
What inspires you and your designs?
Being bold, fearless, confident and beautiful is a state of mind, and bringing out that side of women inspires me and my designs. Everything we wear says something about who we are and how we feel and now everyone in the world will have a chance to say something unique through the message of their footwear. One way to achieve this goal is through heel customization. It was something I wanted to find and it just isn’t out there in the market. I didn’t see any personalization in shoes that made them feel memorable to me and I am setting out to change that.
Your shoes have been featured on the Netflix show “Team Kaylie.” What has it been like to see your brand elevated to such platforms?
Seeing my shoes in the opening shot of a Netflix show was truly amazing and it happened before my line had even launched! Mainly it motivated me to give this brand my all, so I could eventually see the shoes on TV every day!
Anything exciting planned for the future that you’d like to tease or promote?
For one individual that I know who is currently battling cancer, she puts on her F. U. Fiercely Undaunted shoes while getting chemotherapy as a reminder to kick cancer’s ass. In honor of her, and my incredible mother-in-law, and the many women I know who have been affected by breast cancer, we are going to be expanding the line with a pink Fiercely Undaunted shoe and will donate a portion of the sales towards breast cancer research. In the year ahead we will also have a few new colors we will be showcasing as well as a new design completely unique to the marketplace!
Where can people find your brand?