Shoe designer Lacey Kirstein is one cool chica. Lacey started her company LaceyK shoes because she was tired of never finding the right shoes for narrow feet. Sometimes only a woman knows what a woman wants and Lacey K definitely knows what shoes will make women happy. I bought one of Lacey’s shoes last year and can’t get enough of it. The shoes are so comfortable and just plain gorgeous. What I love about LaceyK shoes is that every single item in the collection is classic and timeless.
When I found out that Lacey lived in the DC area, I had to interview her and find out more about what made her start making her own shoes. We have mutual friends so it was not hard to get in contact with her. This jet setter took the time to answer my questions about shoes, starting a business and what goes into a successful shoe brand. To date, LaceyK shoes have been heralded by some of the leading fashion magazines as one of the best and most comfortable shoes. I just wish I had Donald Trump’s budget so that I could get every single one of the shoes in her collection.
What inspired you to choose fashion as your career path?
Prior to the launch of LaceyK Shoes, I had been in voice & data B2B sales for 12 years. But throughout my entire life I had a narrow foot and have always found shoe shopping to be an incredibly frustrating experience! I tried exhaustively to find chic & stylish narrow shoes that rarely, if ever existed! At times, I had even resorted to gluing thick pads into my shoes as all the department stores would suggest. Only a small handful of designers and manufacturers make narrow width shoes and I hated the very limited conservative-styles and selection they were providing for me in black, black or black. So I decided I couldn’t be the only woman with this dilemma….and the market research showed I absolutely was not. I also spent years drawing as a child so it comes very easily to me to sketch out 4-5 new styles at a time. (The day I drove away from the art store after purchasing my first sketch pads, pencils, charcoals & erasers to begin my very first designs to send to Italy, I felt the most incredible goose bumps and had tears of joy in my eyes! I could not believe I was actually getting ready to design my very own collection of shoes I’d always hoped & dreamed of…it was a magical day and quite empowering.)
Why did you choose to start designing shoes? I felt terribly neglected as a consumer. Continuously I saw millions of fabulous shoes I couldn’t wear that women with medium widths had to choose from (Jimmy Choo’s, Manolo Blahnik’s, Christian Louboutin, Giuseppe Snotty, etc, etc… I could go on & on…) I found a mint green cocktail dress on a birthday trip to Paris which was designed by an up & coming French designer on the Champs Ellysees but I could not find one pair of shoes to wear with the dress. At some point in my shoe quest a light bulb went on! I realized I couldn’t be the only women in the world with narrow feet with this problem, so I would design my own stylish shoes. I just HAD to throw my hat in the ring and selfishly empower all the women with narrow feet who are grossly underserved, with far better choices & a wider selection of narrow shoes. We’re still working feverishly to build out the collections today and offer far more choices and various silhouettes.
How did you get started?
For months & months I was looking for the ideal factory in Italy to attach my name & my brand. I talked with boutiques & associations and attended shoe shows. I had almost moved forward with one factory when at the very last hour, a chance meeting with total strangers pointed me in a completely different but phenomenal direction! Now the factory we use produces 80% of all of Gucci’s sandals, which is not bad company to be in.
Where do you look to for ideas and inspiration for your collections?
I pull various components and looks from shoes that won’t fit on my foot to build my dream shoes or I design those I want for various fashions that no other designer is making. Then I make my wish list of colors and materials I have never been able to find from any other designers in the world. (Much of my collection is in python & crocodile because I’ve never been able to find any narrows in either skin.) I also like a classic simplistic shoe with a fabulous dress or suit. Or a fabulously ornate shoe with simplistic fashion. So I’ve tried to provide both thus far.
What is the most important part of a successful collection?
I believe it’s essential to round out a collection with various heel heights, an assortment of colors in diverse materials but all in a shoe that fits well with standardized sizing (so a woman knows an 8½ LaceyK will always fit her foot fabulously).
What is your signature style?
I must say I personally prefer to err towards a more classic, simplistic yet elegant style.
What is the one shoe a Glamour Girl MUST absolutely has in her shoe closet?
I would say that would have to be the “Florence” which was featured in InStyle Magazine! Florence is one of the most fabulous cities in all the world and the editors picked out the “Florence” at my first shoe show just 5 days after my very first prototypes entered the US from Italy! It’s a strappy, sexy python sandal with a 3 inch heel featuring an ankle strap and chunky Swarovski® crystals across the toes.” Magnifico!” as our friends in Firenze would say!
How do your designs fit in to the DC glam girl lifestyle?
LaceyK’s can be seen everywhere from Am Law 200 law firms to swanky cocktail parties & posh nightclubs.
What is your favorite piece in the collection?
My personal favourites are the “Florence” & the “New York”. The NY is a classic T-strap that can be dressed up or down but also elongates the leg. It features a Swarovski® crystal buckle on the side of the ankle and Glamazon gals can find it in black calfskin at Sassanova in Georgetown or on the website www.laceyKshoes.com in a gorgeous light green crocodile.
Best Shoe tip?
I’m used to getting creative with my shoes, both before and after I started my company but I’m all about hammering another hole in the leather strap to make medium widths tighter or in others cases, looser. In terms of care, there are a few python, croc & leather products we endorse and plan to offer on our website soon.