Today we’d like to introduce you to NiK Kacy.
NiK, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
A little over 2 years ago, after I left my job at Google as a Senior Producer/Project Manager, I traveled throughout Europe looking for shoemakers to find out why my whole life I could not find the shoes I longed to wear. I went to shoe fairs and tradeshows and ask how come no one has made shoes that are NOT limited by gender.
I asked why so many folks who do not fit in the traditional gender binaries or do not have gender identities that matched the bodies we were born with, have had to resort to wearing shoes too big/small for us just because manufacturers do not make it in our corresponding sizes. In short, shoes have always been traditionally separated by “male” and “female” genders. So, if I identity as a masculine presenting, gender non-conforming individual (which btw, I do), then I would be either directed to go to the “women’s section” or be told the men’s shoe I liked does not come in my size. And after all my research in Europe, speaking with old-school artisans about a modern concept of gender neutrality, and the need for shoes that are not limited by gender -the resounding response was that basically they knew the need was there but they didn’t think it was “worth it.”
That set forth a whole new passion to prove “them” (a predominantly white, male industry) wrong. I spent the last two years building my designs and brand, completed and fulfilled a successful Kickstarter campaign and now am working on my second collection, Destiny, the first truly gender-equal and gender-neutral footwear line.
My goal is to have every individual in the world to see that the products we place on our bodies should be designed to help us, not limit us. Fashion, to me, is an expression of our identities, not what should dictate how we express ourselves. And certainly, shoes do not define our genders, we define ourselves. If people of all gender spectrums are able to wear my designs and no longer feel limited by the bodies they were born with, my hope is that they will also start seeing the world in a more gender equal way in every way. For example, regardless of our gender identities, if we both can wear my boots, pay the same for them, then maybe my cousin Wayne might start asking “hey, if we spend the same, why aren’t we making the same?”
Using fashion as both activism and inspiration is my mission.
Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has been a road filled with obstacles and challenges. Shoes are probably one of the most difficult products to create. From a large size range (14 sizes total) to small productions, sourcing materials, and trying to compete with large multibillion dollar conglomerates, I realize now that I probably chose one of the hardest industries to get into. As far as I know, I’m the only adult size brand that offers each style in a series of 14 unisex sizes. Often times, because I’m such a small company with small production numbers, I get bumped to the bottom of the production schedule. This means my clients have to wait months for their shoes to be made. I’m just grateful that I literally have the world’s best clients. They are the most supportive, loyal, encouraging and patient group of consumers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I wouldn’t have been able to keep doing this without their support and understanding. So many times, I thought maybe I made a mistake and became so discouraged because I couldn’t sustain and sacrificed so much to create this company. But their encouragement and love of my shoes have kept me going.
I am not going to let them down!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
As the first gender-equal luxury footwear company that uses a custom unisex last (mold), and creates styles that range from masculine of center, gender-neutral, and feminine of center, I specialize in creating shoes and accessories that solve the on-going problem of gender specificity. My philosophy is that how we choose to express ourselves through fashion should have nothing to do with our gender or identities. And certainly, products themselves should not have gender assigned to them.
My designs are top of the line quality, handmade and crafted with my perfectionist eye for details. They are not only comfortable, well made, durable and reliable but they are beautifully designed – classic with a modern twist. When you wear my designs, you are not only treating yourself to something you deserve but you are also expressing your belief in a gender-equal world. You are using your fashion as activism and joining me and so many others who believe in social justice and equal rights. In fact, even the equal sign symbol is on each pair of my shoes and my new collection will have leather soles with the imprints “break the binary” on the bottom sole so you can #walkyourway!
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think Los Angeles is an amazing city for startups and entrepreneurs, especially in the fashion industry. Even though NY, London and Milan get the credit for most fashion movements, I have found that the LA LGBTQ scene has been the hub of creating new, innovative fashion that also has a cause.
I definitely would recommend anyone looking to start out that they come meet some of the designers here and get inspired and/or collaborate!
- Pricing ranges from $25 to $400
- Holiday Sale now until December 26
- use code HOLIDAY at checkout for 10% OFF entire purchase
- Free shipping on all orders over $200 in the 48 contiguous US states.
- Website: www.nikkacy.com
- Phone: 424-645-7096
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/nikkacyfootwear
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/nikkacyfootwear
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/nikkacyfootwear