I love shoes. Some may call it an obsession so I am very excited to showcase the lovely Diane E Kelly and her line.
I heard about Diana’s line through a college friend (Stephanie Hannum - pictured below) who is now working with Diana down in Sarasota. (Yup – A Wildcat & A Gator can successfully work together.) Diana was gracious enough to answer some questions and give Lou What Wear readers a little special offer … more on that below. I love how her line originally started as a way to provide cute game day wear and evolved into a shoe line. (I’ve had a little side project in the same vein that I’ve wanted to work on for a while… may need to talk to Diana about it!) Along with a full line of sandals, flats, heels & pumps – she’s expanded to include clutches and scarves. I really love the classic style with a twist that Diana offers and her summer sandals make me dream about a Caribbean vacation.
And if you see something you love, head over to her site and enjoy 15% off with the code LouWhatWear15
How did you decide to get into shoes & fashion?
I have always loved design and my mother remembers me doodling and sketching since at least 5 years of age. While attending the University of Florida, I was bored with the game day apparel that was in the marketplace and started designing my own game day dresses. I started looking for factories overseas and at the time I was applying to graduate school, thus I put this project on a hiatus. After a year of a Masters of Architecture and Interior Design, I took a leave of absence to re-focus on the game day clothing line. The consultant that we had hired had actually been in the shoe industry for 40 years and recommended to us (after a 2 hours meeting) that we start with shoes since he knew the industry. We discussed this, all agreed, and have never looked back!
Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your shoes?
My inspiration comes from everywhere – mainly trips (to exotic countries and to the beach) and dreams. I also draw inspiration listening to what women are looking for in new shoes.
What has the process been like in starting your own fashion business? What’s been the most fun? Most challenging? Most rewarding?
The process has been extremely tough – challenges have been taking the huge risk of starting a new company in this economy, finding the correct sourcing, distributing, and all of the details in between. Despite these challenges, it has been extremely exciting and rewarding this far and I feel extremely blessed to be able to design products people can wear and enjoy! The most rewarding part was actually getting our first shipment into our warehouse – but now, of course, the real work was just beginning.
Which design is your favorite?
Champagne Elizabeth High Heel, Signature Flower Brooch – it’s my goes-with-everything, go-to shoe.
What designers did you look to for inspiration?
Stuart Weitzman because to me he epitomizes classic yet trendy
For handbags, I love the everyday wear of Rebecca Minkoff and the sparkle and sophistication of Judith Leiber.
Other than shoes, what’s your favorite accessory?
Does lip gloss count? I love Chanel’s new lip-gloss levres in Insolence. If not.. our key west summer scarves. They are the perfect addition to every outfit.
Who is the Diana Kelly woman?
Someone who loves life and tries to make the most of every aspect of it in whatever way maximizes her potential, who is classic yet trendy, philanthropic, loving, team-player, fun, and down-to-earth.
You all have a strong commitment to philanthropy – what charities do you all work with and what’s been the most rewarding part of that?
We work with Bradley Angle, Sunny Hills Services, Sacramento Children’s Home, YWCA Tulsa, Second Harvest Food Bank, Seattle Children’s Home, Girls, Inc, Susan G. Komen, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s Dream Fund, Forty Carrots Family Center, Children’s Dream Fund, Sarasota County Humane Society, Boys and Girls Club, Kaleida Health Center, Lexington Cancer Foundation and Impact 100. The most rewarding part is just the ability to give back to people that are in need. On the bottom of every shoes box is Luke 12:48 – “To whom much is given, much is required.”
What’s next for Diana Kelly?
We see the sky as the limit but right now we are trying to focus in on our market and continue to generate products that support a lifestyle brand. Most recently we have licensed the Key West Sandal Factory name, which being around for 80 years – is the oldest sandal factory in the US. Our motto for this new endeavor is “make everyday a getaway.” We are hoping this mindset translates into all of our resort style products at fantastic price points (www.dekpresentskeywest.com).
What trend are you loving for summer?
I am LOVING all of the beautiful fun nail colors that are out right now, aviators, and summer scarves.
My personal favorites are the Black Cork Clutch with a Fleur de Lis brooch and these Black Monica Wedge Sandal with a Starfish brooch.