Mauryn Kkira, the founder of Kkira Feet, created her business as a result of having trouble finding shoes that she liked. After many years of frustration at the inability to find everyday shoes that were fun to wear, she decided she would create them. She now has more than one hundred designs in just two and a half years since her first pair was featured in Vogue Italia.
Originally from Uganda, the shoe designer is all about inspiring people to express themselves through color, fashion and of course, personal style. We had a chat with Mauryn Kkira and in this interview she shares her journey as an entrepreneur, building Kkira Feet, and more.
Here’s Mauryn Kkira in her words…
Hi Mauryn, it’s great to chat with you and introduce you to our community
Hi! It’s great to chat with you too, and thank you for introducing me to your community!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure, I am originally from Uganda and currently live in Boston, MA. I came to the US when I was nineteen and have lived here ever since. The rest of my family still lives in Uganda and my sister lives in Paris, so I am still very connected to my African roots and culture despite settling here. I am married to my favorite person in the world, and this year in October will mark my third year of pursuing my dream of being a designer. I am honored to have a team of people that I love working with, which literally includes some of my favorite people ever: 2 of my best friends, 2 of my favorite siblings, and oftentimes my husband.
Now let’s talk about Kkira Feet Shoes. Your designs are quite unique and truly one-of-a-kind. What inspires your creative process?
Like most artists will tell you, my creative process is inspired by all manner of things. It ranges from actual individuals to themes, to seasons, to a mood, a desire, a statement I am trying to make all the way to current affairs. Nothing is off-limits when it comes to inspiration. But the one thing that they all have in common is that they are filtered through the lens of authentic expression. My goal when I am designing is to fully convey the entirety of whatever inspired me, to do it freely and unapologetically.
Would you say that your heritage has a big impact on your design ideation?
Absolutely! As an African woman, the love of color, texture, and vibrance lives inside of me. We Africans are passionate and expressive people. We love life and ooze creativity. We can’t help ourselves. We are also very blessed to be no strangers to challenges and to have to use what is around us to make life work for us, so we innovate. We take literal rubbish and make it beautiful, often with passion, joy, fearlessness, and so much dignity. I absolutely benefit from having all these magnificent traits coursing through my veins.
We see a rich variety of shoes on your online store. Did you decide to design different kinds of shoes at once, or did you start with one first?
I actually started with just one pair of sneakers. In some ways, it was a bit of an experiment, honestly. I was just trying to design a pair of shoes that I could wear on a day-to-day basis that was an actual expression of me. I didn’t want to wear boring shoes that were just blah because that is not me at all. I am a very happy and expressive person, so I wasn’t interested in wearing anything that didn’t reflect who I really was.
Once I designed the first pair, it was so well received that it ended up on the Vogue Italia website during Fashion Week in the trends section. I had already been asked by quite a number of people where they could buy them every time I wore them, so I took that as a sign that I was doing something right and decided to add a few more designs. It happened gradually.
What is your target market?
I would say my target market is women, men, and non-gendered people who are mission-driven, love color, care about authenticity, value quality, and have no specific desire to fit in the boxes that societal norms create. Our shoes are made for happy souls who want to express themselves freely. So it’s definitely not for the wallflowers or those who want to fit in.
It’s quite obvious that you love to play with colors and prints. This has us wondering if you would ever create a single monochrome-colored design
LOL. As an artist, I would hope that I am up for the challenge of creating a monochrome shoe, but I have to be honest, I would probably only do that as a challenge and form of growth and self-development.
We imagine that the pandemic affected your business like many others. How did you sustain the business during the height of the pandemic?
Yeah, it definitely did. It’s hard enough to buy shoes when you have nowhere to go for two years, so imagine how much harder it is to buy luxury brand shoes under those circumstances. But remember that creative and innovative spirit I talked about before? It kicked in, and instead of shutting things down, we focused on getting more connected with the few customers we had and growing our community via social media.
We are so lucky to have a very supportive community and they continued to find ways to support us throughout the pandemic that we did even better the second year than we did the first. So we are grateful that our shoes have been very warmly received by the people who know about us and that they have continued to support us as we grow. Kkira Feet
What are some of the lessons you learned from the pandemic and how has that impacted your business going forward?
I think the biggest lesson I learned from the pandemic was that it counts to show up for ourselves and others every day, no matter what the circumstances may look like. I would not have thought that we would have survived a pandemic for two years, let alone grown, but the fact that we committed to taking action to connect with our community every day actually made a difference and moved us along so much further than we thought we could have gotten.
I also learned that connection matters. It seems strange when people are talking about a brand and they mention things like community, but it really is the connection and community that we create that carries us forward. These two lessons have shaped our philosophy as a brand and they continue to give us forward momentum, so I am grateful for them.
Would you say that social media has played a significant role in the growth of your brand?
Absolutely! The majority of our customers find us through social media and continue to support us so generously by getting in touch with us, sending us photos of themselves in our shoes, tagging us when they wear them, sharing our shoes on their platforms and so much more. I can’t count how many times I get direct messages from customers writing me just to tell me something kind about my designs or how our shoes empowered them at a specific time in their lives. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.
What are your favorite kind of shoes and why?
That is a funny question for me to answer because my favorite kind of shoes is the kind that tells a story proudly and unabashedly. I love shoes that are bold, comfortable, and carefully straddle the line between ugly and pretty. Like the ones that look like they could easily turn ugly if something about them was slightly changed, and yet they are so obviously and awkwardly pretty at the same time. I know that’s a weird answer, but it’s the best way I can describe them. LOL.
Where do you see the Kkira Feet Shoes brand in 5 years?
In five years, I see Kkira Feet having at least three physical locations and expanding into a lifestyle brand. We are currently getting ready to launch some new additions to the brand and it is actually very exciting for us, so definitely stay tuned for that.
You refer to yourself as the “Unconditional Self-Love Fairy Godmother.” Can you shed more light on this? Kkira Feet
LOL, I don’t know that I can claim to be the ‘Unconditional Self-Love Fairy Godmother,’ but I like to think of myself as one of the many that I am sure to exist. Basically, I have a theory (I actually wrote a book about it) that the only reason that we human beings do terrible things to each other is that we don’t have sufficient empathy for one another; and I think the reason we don’t have said empathy is that in order to empathize with something or someone, we have to have experienced the thing we are empathizing about in some way.
For example, if I don’t like the idea of someone saying mean and hurtful things to me, then I am able to fully understand that another person will not like it either. But if I don’t have the ability to understand that I don’t like how mean words make me feel, then I can’t even begin to think of how those same words would affect another person, because I simply can’t empathize with their situation. So I think the reason we are not good at loving one another as human beings is that we don’t love ourselves to begin with. Kkira Feet
If we did, we would just as easily love others the same way that we love ourselves. In other words, we can only give what we have. I believe that if ever there was a day when we all got up and truly loved ourselves unconditionally, that would be the one day that humanity would not commit any harm—because people who love themselves truly and fully are happy people, and happy people can do no harm.
Because I believe that so strongly, I started this brand to give people access to expressing themselves freely as a means of self-love and self-acceptance, and everything I do is fueled by that desire. So I like to think of myself as a Fairy Godmother of Unconditional Self-love. I sort of just go around places and sprinkle the equivalent of fairy dust on people via fun expressive shoes, and they explore themselves a little more, express themselves a little more, discover themselves a little more, accept themselves a little more, and hopefully love themselves a little more. I know that was a long answer, but you asked! LOL.
What do you do for self-care?
Lots of things. I pray, meditate, journal, do yoga, work out, dance, laugh a lot, saturate myself in color, create, sing, and ride my bike. There are probably a bunch more things that I do for self-care, but these are the staples!
To learn more and shop her designs, visit kkirafeet.com.
Images courtesy of Mauryn Kkira
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