International Women’s Day, now being celebrated for over a century, is an opportunity to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide. As a female owned and operated business, this event is one that is held closely to our hearts and the perfect opportunity to highlight a few of our fellow female owned small businesses that we are fortunate enough to work with. The women behind these brands all exemplify the perseverance, creativity, and dedication that are an absolute necessity to succeed.
When you walk into a heel boy store, whether on a specific mission or to casually browse and take in all the season has to offer, there is always an abundance of visual stimulation. Despite this, it always seems as though the customers’ eyes are naturally drawn towards the designs of the Toronto-based team of Alexa and Mariel who are Eleven Thirty. The simple, yet unique and timeless styles that have launched their success always garner attention from the most discerning of eyes, and a hand always reaches out to touch and admire the supple Italian leather. Upon closer inspection, the detail and level of craftsmanship that go into each creation is instantly apparent. Whether is be an Eleven Thirty staple like the Anni Mini shoulder bag (perfect for everyday wear!), or the thoughtfully designed Melissa Convertible (from shoulder bag to backpack in one fluid motion) that catches your eye, it immediately becomes clear why this Canadian duo have developed such a loyal following since their launch in 2013.
Alexa and Mariel’s philosophy, “buy well, buy less” is a simple one that reflects a movement to return to a time of slower fashion. To this day, despite having a bustling and beautiful storefront shop, as well as over 50 retail partners, each bag is still cut and sewn by one of these two women. They also strive to limit their waste as much as possible, which only adds to the unique quality of each piece they create. By not discarding “imperfect” pieces of leather, each bag is entirely different, and the smaller “scrap” pieces allow for the creation of pouches, tassels, and belts to complete their collection. With offerings such as custom pieces and complementary in-studio cleaning and conditioning, it is clear that the entire customer experience has been crafted as thoughtfully as the collections themselves.
Three hours away in heel boy’s hometown, Kingston, Ontario, the luxurious offerings of another Canadian designer, Kyla Carmody, started with many similar values: the highest quality materials, North American production, and designs meant to last a lifetime (or more!). In fact, Carmody’s mission is to “create high-end investment pieces meant to be passed down from generation to generation.”
The journey started in 2016 while Kyla was completing her Masters at Queen’s University and the first step in curating her collection was the material itself. Today, each Carmody piece is created with ethically sourced Peruvian alpaca, famed for its warmth, durability and hypoallergenic qualities. Despite all its technical benefits, what really sells the alpaca fibre is just one quick brush of its soft plushness against your skin.
Since the first launch of the collection in 2017, Carmody has offered a variety of pieces that all tell a story of forward-thinking classic style paired with the utmost attention to detail where quality is concerned. From her signature piece, the Carmody vest, to the show-shopping cape, each design is a testament towards the strength of the female entrepreneur.
KaanasColombia based family business, Kaanas, tells a story of four sisters and second generation shoemakers who chose to take the passion and knowledge gained from their parents and carve out a place for themselves in the ever changing fashion industry. Growing up, the sisters were surrounded and immersed in every aspect of their family’s businesses, from the sourcing of materials and design process, to the retail world and tagging along to trade shows. These childhood experiences instilled a passion and dedication that led to the the launch of Kaanas in 2013.
At the root of Kaanas is a desire to return to the craft and art of shoemaking and move away from the lower quality, mass produced products that currently overwhelm the market. Today, every member of the family, including their mother and father, are deeply involved in every step of the process, from design to customer service, and are present in their factory on a daily basis. When you start to explore and admire their collection, which features classic silhouettes with a youthful, fresh twist, it becomes clear how much thought and devotion have gone into each piece. In the spirit of continuing to champion female businesses, they are currently partnering with Colombian artisan Frida Padilla on a line of handmade bags and headbands that perfectly complete their carefully curated collection. The Kaanas brand exemplifies a group of women thoughtfully weaving together their family history and knowledge with a modern take of business and design to truly tell a story through their craft.
p.s. Keep an eye out for a contest coming soon on Instagram (@heelboy) featuring amazing prizes from all three brands!