The book starts out with a funny, pretend but truthful quote, “I have enough shoes.” – Said no woman, EVER. On the shoe philosophy that is the basis for the book, she has found women get it – she doesn’t even have to explain it. “For me, I was excited to have women really recognize that we do have this language about shoes that we can all relate to.” I’ve talked all over the U.S. and all over Europe about the book, women just get it, which makes it so much fun for me.”
On the creation and evolution of the book, she explained, “I’ve thought a lot about this, first of all, I think as women we do evolve in a lot of different ways depending on where our life takes us.” Furthermore; “I think women do this more than men, because we have more things that impact our lives. We have physical changes as we go through life, we have children, then they leave home. They go to nursery school, and there are just all these changes.” She talked about the way it was in her generation – the men worked and had families, but women were and are, ultimately the ones who go through more life changes and experiences.
The book begins with the discussion of our universal love affair with shoes and the author’s own story and background that led to this. Kathy Kelada, was a pioneer of personal shopping and styling, and life coaching. Kelada, is a former television actress, having performed in classic TV series, such as: Golden Girls, Mork & Mindy and McMillan & Wife. After acting in Hollywood, she became a successful personal shopper in Beverly Hills and launched her own business, Born To Shop. It was even named the best shopping service in the city by Los Angeles Magazine.
“Over the course of a life, we are constantly meeting new challenges. And not recreating ourselves, but becoming more of ourselves.” For her, it defined who she was and where she was going. “I was an actress in my early twenties, for about fifteen years, into my early thirties, then I had children and started a family.” Her career and schedule shifted during this time of her life. “I thought, you know what, this isn’t working for me anymore. I can’t be away, I need to be here. That’s when I decided to start my shopping service.” An idea was born and it turned into a successful business venture. “It’s what stylists are today, but in those days it was called personal shopping.” Personal shoppers were all the rage during that time in the eighties. Through the decades, things haven’t changed much on this front, as personal stylists and personal shoppers are in demand still to this day.
“I just kept meeting the challenges, if someone said they wanted to shop for their holiday list – I just did it.” As we follow our path in life, different things are required from us at different times. We need to be able to shift and balance our professional and personal lives. For her shopping business, “It turned and evolved into a company that did, not only styling, but corporate gift buying, gifting through movie studios, running shopping tours for women coming into town with companies and corporations. It turned into some really interesting things.”
After doing that for many years, Kelada remarried and relocated to Vermont with their family. “The shopping service, it just didn’t translate there. I mean, there was no shopping there. It was an hour and a half to get to a Target.” (Which was a big outing for her and her daughter!)
This led to more life changes and challenges. “I thought, okay, what can I do now? What’s the next thing going to be?” They were living near Dartmouth, a college town and education is what goes on there, so she naturally went back to school and earned a master’s degree in Education. She focused on organizational development. “Over the course of that two year period, I realized that a lot of the information that I was getting about how to help corporations and companies stay vital, get everybody on board and moving together, was wonderful information for women in general.” She saw that women, just like herself, weren’t presented with those tools. Therefore; the idea was sparked for ‘Life Mapping.’ It combined strategic planning models and helped women lay out a plan for themselves. Having gained this expertise, she specialized in life transitions through the Women’s Health Resource Center at Dartmouth College. There she designed classes, especially for women: Life Mapping I and II, The Fear Factor, in addition to lectures and speaking engagements. That led to embarking on her new career path. Kathy Kelada became a ‘life coach’ before that term was out in the world! All of the courses and workshops she did, “That led to I have a plan, what do I do now? So I got an office and said, you can come and see me.”
“Everything was meeting the challenge as it came up and creating something new.” Which is what we all deal with over the course of our lives. “This is the most important thing of all of that, the common thread that went through everything I was doing, was transformation – self-transformation.” Furthermore; “I realized that whether it’s your clothes, or education, or it’s impacting other people’s emotions - it was all about sparking that sense of self-transformation.” Having a positive mindset is key. “You can do anything, you can be anything, and let’s help make that transition for you. So the book is a culmination of all of those things,” she explained.
The book follows into ‘our shoe truths’ and ‘how to find your shoe.’ There are fourteen core shoe profiles. They are the: strappy sandal, pump, flip-flop, flat, high-heeled boot, running shoe, loafer, sneaker, low-heeled boot, mule, work boot, wedge, clog and furry boot. “I initially started with about 40 shoes,” she said. “I would ask people what shoe they were, and take a tally of what people thought they were.” However; “That number of shoes was too complicated for people to sort through, so I started combining. I thought to myself, well, a cowboy boot is really a low heel boot, and this is really that.” It became organized the more she kept narrowing it down. She did so until there was no way to lower the amount of shoe profiles anymore. “Because a loafer is really not a flat, and a wedge is not a flip-flop. Those 14 iconic styles to me, are the closest I could get to really defining the 14 personality types,” she stated. Some people will fall between the shoes, and apply themselves to multiple categories, which is perfectly okay. That is why each shoe type, has a detailed description.
After all of the iconic shoe profiles are described in depth, the book dives into becoming the shoe. This includes: closet therapy, a debrief on shoe feelings, shoe shopping and taking life in strides. “I was able to take all of that life experience, and fold it into this wonderful, simple, little message about shoes, and women, and you know, be the shoe, that was it.”
“I’ve been in the process of writing this book for five years and before that I was using my personal clients and people cycling through my classes, about what shoe are you?” She still currently has a thriving life coach practice, where she coaches celebrities and others on finding their passions, making changes they desire, and finding the right pairs of shoes. Some clients keep coming back regularly, while some just need the initial positive reinforcement to help get through it, then they move on and run with it. However; her clients have helped her determine the types of shoes and personalities.
“The strappy sandal has always been my go-to shoe.” Kelada likes that the strappy sandal has, “The ability to really embrace change, and ‘say yes before no’ and always be in.” She added, “That always will be, and that’s always been me.” In addition, she resonates with the strappy sandal because of, “The sense of beauty and having beauty surround you. In fact, that was what drove me to make the book as beautiful as it is.” The book is full of beautiful illustrations and even comes in a dust bag cover (just like designer shoes do!) “I wanted women to hold it, feel it, to know that this beautiful thing could be theirs and they could give it to their friends, their mom, their sister.” Kelada has been garnering a positive response, and has found women want to share this, and they often are buying more than one book at a time even.
“I had 100% total control over the book, I made the book exactly the way I envisioned it and wanted it.” She noticed shoes drawn in all water colors by artist, Bridget Davies, and contacted her immediately to collaborate for this project. Davies did all of the illustrations in the book and brought her vision to life. This is a book that is not just about reading the words, rather it’s a visual and immersive experience.
The launch party of the book took place at Jimmy Choo in Beverly Hills. It was perfect because, “They have every shoe style mentioned in the book,” Kelada said. “You wouldn’t really associate them with a work boot, but they have a winter boot that could transition and works for that.” (Laughs) At the party, people tried on shoes to see what they felt they were. After that great event, Jimmy Choo has a special place in her heart. “I have to say, it doesn’t have to be a high end brand necessarily. I encourage women to try experiment and try on different shoes in order to discover who they think they might be and who they want to be.” Kelada recently did a talk at Just Fab. “They feel about fashion about how I do, it reflects the inner you.”
Consistency is key. “Whether it’s high end, low end, or somewhere in between – it’s all about the shoe and how it makes you feel.” What is it about women and their shoes exactly that makes it so special? “I think it’s because our shoe size is the one thing about us that stays constant through our whole lives. No matter what happens. Whether we lose a job, or are carrying some extra baby weight, or whatever is going on outwardly in our lives, that shoe size stays the same. When we look down it is constant and familiar and comforting,” she summed up.
A good rule of thumb: Life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes. “I think you need to have shoes that you are comfortable in, more importantly than the style.” Because; “There is nothing worse than having fabulous, fantastic shoes in your closet, that are so uncomfortable, that every time you wear them you’re in agony,” she said. She talked about how she got to the point in her life where, she decided if they aren’t comfortable then they stay in the store. “Whatever the style, it has to be comfortable, and it’s got to be something that you can move around and actually live your life in.”
Spring trends are in full bloom: “I’m enjoying all of the color right now, for one thing. Everyone has different colors that resonate with them. But I do think that color is invigorating and it sparks our souls. I’m loving seeing so much color in the palette right now. We’ve gone through a lot of neutrals and of course, the go-to all black, but people are starting to wear a lot of color.” Our shoes, just like our clothing and accessories, are seeing a burst of color. “Whether it’s pastel or primary or shocking. I think color is inspiring to our souls.” We all are thrilled to see it cycling back into fashion and trends.
Life is all about putting your foot in the right direction: “This is really a fun book, it’s not meant to be a big self-help book with a lot of heavy messages. It’s meant to be fun, to spark conversation and get women talking and sharing with each other. There is a lot of power in women sharing their thoughts, and their dreams, and their fears with each other.” There are many female empowerment movements happening right now, which is fantastic. “For me, I wanted a vehicle that could start the conversation and this is it,” she said. Kelada designed the book so that it would fit inside your handbag and you could take it with you on the go. Which then leads to it being a conversation starter with people around you, wherever it is you are.
On this journey, “I refused to accept the no’s, I only followed the yes’s,” Kelada explained. “Every time I found someone who said ‘Yes I’m in,’ I went with it.” She really let that influence her in the creative direction she took the book. “The experience was so much richer, having everyone involved, being so in and fully on board.” Her advice for women everywhere is to follow the yes and get rid of the no. “I encourage women to follow the yes, if the no is out there - just go in another direction. Don’t try to make the no a yes, just go in another direction and see the yes.” We cannot focus our energy on things we cannot change. People get too caught up in what they don’t have control over. “Taking the next step, is really what it’s all about.” Especially, a step towards yes!
Step towards your dreams in the shoes that are truly you. Be the shoe you want to be, and live the life of your dreams.
Katie Gray is a Marymount Manhattan College alum with degrees in Communication & Media Arts and Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. She is a New York City based freelance writer, journalist and reporter. She has had jobs and internships with: Marie Claire, Fox News, 5W Public Relations, NY1 News, Bloomingdale’s flagship, Cumulus Media with radio stations NASH FM & PLJ, Tribeca Film Festival and New York Fashion Week with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Her work has been featured in print and online publications: Brooklyn Reporter, Cupid’s Pulse, The Daily Meal, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Center for Communication, Bensonhurst Bean, and more. You can find her on her website: www.xoxokatiegray.com for more.