Browse Tag

womens shoes

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Black Owned Luxury Shoe Brand Launches In Multiple Nordstrom Locations

Keeyahri is a Black owned luxury shoe label focused on building up the confidence of the shoe wearer every step of the way. Founder and Artistic Director Keya Martin swapped out her corporate career for a more rewarding one in fashion with an emphasis on luxury footwear for the confident woman.

We caught up with her to find out more about her business and entrepreneurial journey.

Black Owned Luxury shoe
Keeyahri Founder and Artistic Director, Keya Martin

What inspired you to start a shoe business? 

My perspective on life changed once I felt that the corporate world had a way of eroding one’s sense of self value. After feeling unfulfilled, I prayed and searched for signs and guidance. I made a list of things that I took interest in, footwear was on it.

I’ve always had a good eye for shoes and I wanted to create designs that contributed to my confidence. I became passionate about making statement piece designs that women would love to wear. Once I received my first samples back, I would wear my shoes to networking events.

The compliments I received condensed my insecurities and fueled my self-esteem. Wearing “feel good” shoes makes me feel as if my walk in life is elevated. My shoes transformed me.  I design shoes for women who are in need of an artistic statement piece to provide a sense of elevation and certainty. My goal is to celebrate women by uplifting and empowering them.

Black Owned Luxury shoe

What has been the most rewarding part of your business journey? What has been the most challenging?

The Nordstrom partnership is by far the most rewarding part of my journey. Not only did they invest in my company, but they also gave me their full support to onboard my brand. This partnership opens doors for future growth of all Black owned businesses.

What was most amazing was their continued belief in my potential despite my brand being new to the industry. This is my proudest moment by far. Never in a million years did I think this would ever happen. The journey has been quite challenging but this solidifies all of my effort and hard work.

Black Owned Luxury shoe

Congrats on your Nordstrom partnership. How did that relationship come about?

I was connected to their designer buying team earlier this year. Once connected, they expressed that they were already interested in the brand. We set up a meeting, where I was able to share my story and present my collection. They shortly came back with the styles and quantities they were interested in.

What do you need to take your business to the next level?

As a small minority business, access to capital and funding resources remain essential to our ability to profit and thrive. With capital, I can streamline my processes, scale up my operations, hire great new people and continue working on the things I care about most: creating designs that uplift people.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we actually do it. Once I decided to book my trip to Italy to locate a factory, everything started to align and fall in place. My advice would be to make a move, shoot your shot, jump in that dm, make the connection, collaborate. Do not stay stagnant. If you’re scared, do it scared.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In 5 years, I see Keeyahri growing into a lifestyle brand. I’m more of an innovator as opposed to being a footwear designer. I foresee handbags, garments, perfume, and home accessories in the near future. I’m looking forward to partnering with more retailers around the globe.

-Tony O. Lawson


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From Combat Boots to Pumps, How this Veteran is Taking the Fashion World by Storm

During her 20 years in the U.S. Army, Natasha Stanford jumped out of airplanes, led and developed multiple teams and was responsible for administrating a multi million dollar contract.

After each deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, Natasha would to treat herself to a luxury item. Unfortunately, the shoes that she bought may have been stylish, but they were not comfortable. She became determined to find a way to create comfortable shoes of high quality.

This determination led Natasha to enroll in Arsutoria School in Italy, where she trained in the design, pattern making and manufacturing of shoes.

We caught up with Natasha to find out more about the inspiration behind her shoe company, Norie Shoes and her entrepreneurial journey in general.

norie shoes
Natasha Standard

How did your tenure in the armed forces prepare you for entrepreneurship?

In the military you learn and develop multiple skills and characteristics that and also beneficial in entrepreneurship. Some of these include leadership skills, discipline and tenacity. are among them. Other things I learned during my service were the importance of networking, financial skills and the ability to discern a situation.

norie shoes

What has been the most rewarding thing about your entrepreneurial journey so far? What has been the most challenging?

The most rewarding thing about my journey so far is being acknowledged by some celebrities, musicians, and athletes.

The most challenging is convincing people to believe in me and my vision. People will never believe in you the way you believe in yourself.

How do you select your designs and materials?

Because I am school trained, I follow the very important trend analysis process that is published on a bi-annual basis to the fashion industry. What most designers do not know, is that access to trend information is $25,000 a year.  That is technically a barrier to entry, because most designers cannot afford that expense.

This barrier allows a small designer like myself, to be in trend so that buyers will take notice and give my brand a chance because my style is similar to the larger designers they are used to supporting.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In five years, I plan on opening stores around the world (including an airport), and in two large retail stores.

I also see my company selling ten thousand pairs of shoes per year and becoming a household shoe brand name that is popular with celebrity designers and stylists. I would like my brand mentioned in a rap or R&B song.

In addition to all that, I will give back to the community by providing free shoes + backpacks to school age girls. My team is working on it, we don’t have the details yet.

norie shoes

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice is to go for it and buy the best website, consultant and advisor for the lowest price.  For example, I spent $6,000 on a website and after it was built, the developer tried to charge me even more for something simple.  I fired him and started using Shopify.

 

-Tony O. Lawson