Meet Carly Burnett, Founder of TKEES
1. What inspired your vision for TKEES footwear?
If I could walk out of the house barefoot, I would, but I know that’s not acceptable, so we created something that was the next best thing to that! A super elegant, minimal flip flop that happens to be ridiculously comfortable. It’s like slipping in to your second skin that makes getting ready so much easier.
2. Other than TKEES, name some of the travel essentials you’d pack for a beach getaway.
I pack things that I can wear over and over again. White and Black tees are a must, along with some light pairs of baggy jeans, oversized jean shorts, and a white button down that can be worn to the beach or out for dinner. I don’t like wearing anything tight, especially in warm weather. The looser the better.
3. TKEES have such a coolly minimalist vibe. Does that kind of restraint and elegant simplicity translate to other areas of your life?
It’s very true to who I am. I am all about less is more. I don’t get too attached to things. I’m very attracted to simple, well done things.
4. Just as makeup is used to beautify the face, would you say TKEES — in their gorgeous range of nudes, metallics and pigmented tones — cosmetically enhance the look of legs and feet?
Absolutely! In fact, when we originally launched TKEES 10 years ago, our tagline was “Cosmetics for your feet.” Every category of our classic flip flops that we launched fell in line with cosmetics. Our “Foundations” were made of matte leather in a range of nudes, our “Glosses” were made of shiny patent leather, our “Highlighters” were made in a metallic leather and so on. They all had a cosmetic reference and people loved it! It was pretty out there, but it gave lots of publications something fun to write about.
5. In developing new collections, are there design rules you follow and some that you ignore?
We don’t really follow any rules. Who makes them anyways? We create what we want and especially what we believe our customers are looking for. We do pay attention to data though. It’s very important in pointing us in the right direction. We love testing new silhouettes, and if they flop (pardon the pun) we move on. If they’re a hit, we develop further into that line. We’re so lucky to have so much creative freedom. Sometimes I feel like I’m a kid in a candy store.
6. Has your design philosophy stayed consistent or broadened to keep in step with evolving trends?
My design philosophy is who I am. It’s in my DNA, but I always try to step out of my comfort zone. It’s incredibly important to in order to grow as a person and as a company. I have never been an animal print lover, but we recently sampled a pair of TKEES in cheetah, and now all I want is EVERYTHING cheetah lol! I love surprising myself.
7. What is your necessary indulgence — something non-negotiable and just for you?
Working out. It’s a daily must. It’s my me time where I can get a good sweat on, shut off my brain and challenge myself. It puts me in the right frame of mind to start off each day.
8. What type of advice are people most likely to ask you for? Do they typically take it?
People usually ask me what it’s like to start your own company. I tell them, if you have an idea that you believe in, then go for it regardless of what others think. Avoid the nay-sayers. There are a lot of them out there that will not speak your language. Trust your gut and have some grit. It’s not easy, but nothing good comes easy. There are highs and lows. It’s how you deal with them that will separate you from the rest.