Q&A With Naya Shoe Designer Kasey Gibbs

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Here’s a new shoe line with a conscious that I have been following for some time.  If you’ve been reading my blog you might be familiar with the brand, as I have written about Naya a couple of times before.  I currently own two pairs – the Telluride (Spring 2010) and Bakula (Fall 2010).  Naya keeps producing gorgeous, eco-friendly styles that are as kind to your feet as they are to the earth (and did I mention, they’re GORGEOUS).  The brand’s designer Kasey Gibbs took the time to have a phone chat with me and answer some questions about going green, her latest collections, and what she looks for in a shoe.  Read on for more!

What was the hardest thing about going green?

It’s really a paradigm shift for people because for so long it’s been about economies of scale and how to make lots of shoes, make them as fast as is physically possible, and with that territory comes shortcuts that are maybe not as healthy for the environment.  It’s a big shift, and the best thing that’s come out of that is that I have vendors now coming to me knocking on my door saying, ‘we see what you guys are doing, we want to be a part of this’.  It might be less expensive (going green) because you’re saving materials and you’re not having to spend so much money on raw materials.

What inspired your spring collection?

We look at what’s happening in the fashion world, and then we add a little Naya-tude to it.  We’ve got open-toed ankle booties and sandals that have a very organic look, as opposed to being very round or square or geometric, and we’ve done it in a very soft and feminine and an organic way.  It almost looks like lace.  And then we’ve got another group that harkens back to tribal details.  We’ve got a lot of beautiful shoes with lacing treatments on them that have that sort of huarache-esque look but they’re not huarache shoes.  We’ve got slingbacks and cute little flats.  And then drawing out from nature, we’ve got a whole group of shoes with interlaced pieces that look like a leaf coming up the front of the foot.  They’re beautiful.

And on the heights of the heels, are you going to have a variety or are you going in a certain direction?

We do have some higher heels.  Our customer is obviously looking for comfort as well as beautiful shoes, so we have a lot of mid-heel heights as well.  Our highest heel is about 3 1/2 inches high with the platform.

What is your favorite shoe from the spring collection?

We have a group of shoes with a tie-dyed flower on them.  And I call them the Sugar Magnolia collection.  There’s a lot of color to them, and it makes them really beautiful.  We have a lot of natural colors in the line but we also think the Naya customer is looking for unique colors.  We’ve got a really great red we call venom, a hot mustard color, a really beautiful bright green (for later in the season), and a lot of dusty turquoises and roses.

Back to the fall collection, which shoe is your favorite?

The Bakula, which is a platform pump with an origami flower on the side of it.  I wear it during the weekend, to brunch, and all the time during the week.  With skirts, with pleated pants and high-waisted pants, love it.  The boots are just great too, and I love the Nefertiti.  Every woman loves the Briar (same heel height as the bakula) with a tie across the top of it with beautiful metallics, and I have a feeling we have to vote that as the number one shoe in the line for fall.

What do you find the most attractive about shoes?

For me, I look for the details.  I don’t work in an industry where I have to be around customers all the time, and my job entails packing boxes and running around and working in a more creative environment, so I look for shoes to go with what I’ve already got and are really attitude pieces.  A shoe can completely change an outfit, and it’s the details that set people apart, whether it’s a gigantic cocktail ring or a pair of amazing shoes with a great heel or shape. They don’t have to be high but something really amazing and beautiful.

What’s next for Naya?

The brand is so new, right now what we’re focusing on is what we can do with the communities.  We’re working on Recycle America Day later in the month of November.  We’re also tag-teaming with Soles4Souls, and at Shoes.com if you order a pair of shoes, a little card comes in the box that says if you put a gently used  pair of shoes in this box and send it back, we’ll donate it to Souls4Soles for someone that’s less advantaged that needs footwear, and then they’ll give you a tax write-off as well as a coupon to buy more shoes.  It’s a nudge to do the right thing and to get new shoes.  We’re working on what’s going to happen for Earth Day next year, because launching the brand on Earth Day was a big success for us and we were able to plant 5,000 trees.  We think the brand does have potential as a lifestyle brand so we’re starting to explore that.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Naya shoes are beautiful AND comfortable, and they soften your footprint.  I stand behind this message – I drive a hybrid vehicle, I compost, recycle, we pay energy credits in my household, so we really stand behind the brand in that respect, as well as making sure the shoes are beautiful and comfortable.

Thanks to Kasey and Naya Shoes for taking the time for this interview!  Naya is definitely on my brand watch list.  You can learn more at NayaShoes.com, and shop the collection at Shoes.com.

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Anna