Keds Found Its Sweet Spot by Partnering With Female Entrepreneurs

The brand's CMO weighs in on why authentic partnerships are key

Inside the Ladies For Ladies platform at Keds.
Keds

Keds wants consumers to know it’s more than just a shoe company–a 101-year-old one at that. Of course the brand makes shoes that have been around for over a century, but it also puts high priority on championing women with its product, its marketing and its mission.

This week the brand rolled out its latest partnership–under its newly named Ladies For Ladies platform–with designer Alice Saunders. Saunders is the woman behind the ultra-popular New England-based bag company Forestbound.

“It’s just an evolution of our position in the marketplace, which is ladies first since 1916. We’ve always been working with female collaborators and frankly we just decided to brand it and that’s why it’s called Ladies For Ladies,” Emily Culp, CMO of Keds, said. “It’s just another way that we are being authentic with our consumer.”

In the past the brand has partnered with names like Anna Bond of the now-famous Rifle Paper company and New York-based designer Kristin Texeira. When the Keds x Rifle Paper Co. collection originally launched in February of this year, the shoes sold out in under 24 hours. Now Keds continues to partner with the brand by releasing new products in that line.

At the end of the day, Culp said the brand is just trying to stay true to its mission of working with female entrepreneurs and companies started by women to help them succeed in the market today.

“To me as a CMO it’s really important to be authentic when it comes to female empowerment. Another way to look at female empowerment is ensuring that we are empowering other female entrepreneurs and this is another way to do it,” she explained.

The idea of Ladies for Ladies has been around for some time as the brand has always tried to work with women in business. Keds is just making the platform more official, by rolling out a specific section on the Keds website where all the lady-made and inspired collections reside. The site was designed to look and feel like a blog, but without all the hassle of having to constantly update with new content.

“We didn’t need to launch a full blog per say because then you are updating it, but it should feel blog-like,” Culp explained.

When selecting women to work with and create products with, Culp noted that it’s important that the vibe of the designer fit with the Keds style and image.

“When you look at an Anna Bond or an Alice of Forestbound, they have this interesting mix of honoring heritage, whether it’s a heritage floral print or a heritage, vintage type of canvas and modernizing it. They share similar values to us. The other piece is they want to make beautiful products for women and they want to make it accessible,” she noted. Keds also thinks about women who have global reach with the work they’re already doing.

Keds doesn’t tend to run massive brand campaigns or TV spots to promote the collections, but instead relies on social media and the designers themselves.

“As long as we continue to see success, meaning it’s resonating with our consumer and it’s driving sales and engagement, we are going to keep expanding this program. What I could see coming down the road is even doing an apparel collection,” Culp added.