“She’s More Than Just A Pretty Shoe”
A generation of can-do designers are no longer waiting to be discovered. Instead, these talents are taking charge of their own destiny and plowing through obstacles along the way, regardless of age or background. In walks Kendall Reynolds.
Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Kendall Reynolds graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School. She went on to enroll at the University of Southern CA. Both of Reynold’s parents are investment bankers. He father Loop Capital CEO James Reynolds and mother Sandy Reynolds, Loop Capital co-founder instilled in Reynolds the lessons of entrepreneurship.
At the young age of 22, Kendall Reynolds built her own empire from the ground up. It came as no surprise when Reynolds created her own line of luxury women’s shoes. Her business currently holds the No.2 spot on BE 100’s Investment Banks List. Kendall Miles Design has already cultivated a legion of industry followers and celebrities including Vanessa Hudgens, Regina King, Caroline Vreeland, Naturi Naughton, Tinashe… and is sold at luxury stores including Ikram and Madison.
It is Kendall Reynolds’ old-school dedication to the craft that sets her apart. In our increasingly digital climate, it is refreshing to see Reynolds cherishes relationships with her factories. In more ways than one, she proves the enduring value of being hands-on.
Manufactured in Florence, Italy Kendall Miles plays with texture and isn’t afraid to be offbeat all while maintaining a timeless, classic look. Her innovative designs are accentuated with modern accents like snakeskin, feathers and shiny gold hardware on a super high stiletto heel. With a unique creative vision, Kendall Miles strives to emphasize the beauty of the female foot and adorn it with gracious lines, while notwithstanding comfort.
GETTING TO KNOW KENDALL REYNOLDS
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue shoe design?
At 15. Growing up my mom had the most fabulous shoe closet. My parents bought me my first pair of Louis Vuitton when I turned 15 because I was begging them. And from there it was down hill. At 16 I had a boyfriend. He bought me another pair of Louis Vuitton. From there all the money I made over the summer interning when I was in HS, I spent on shoes at the end of the summer. People love to make fun of me.
You came out with your first design brand as a senior at the University of Southern CA. How did this come to be?
It started when I realized I wanted to design shoes. The first step was sketching and designing my first collection. When I had what I thought could be considered a collection, I actually went to my mom and said ‘mom I really want to start a shoe brand and I want to be the designer and build the business around it.’ There was a bit of back and forth just because I was so young and I was never the best student so of course my parents’ priority was me graduating college. I graduated in 2016. That was first and foremost. It was an agreement we had made.
Do you ever feel you have to prove yourself that much more due to your parents’ success?
The main criticism I get, people love to tell me I’m only here because of my parents. I work really hard. Nobody can build a business for you.
What has been the greatest obstacles on your journey?
Some days it’s really hard. I look at it as this is going to be a tough meeting. I really have to be an adult right now. You have to be prepared for what’s ahead. Honestly being prepared is the only thing that matters. Whether you’re 20 or 50, if you’re walking into a meeting unprepared, you’re going to look foolish.
What makes your shoes unique, different from the other top designers?
Being a luxury brand in America is something that doesn’t really exist. If you think about it, most luxury brands are European because that’s where all the luxury goods are made. So having this American perspective works wonders for my clients in America because the fit of a European shoe on an American foot doesn’t quite work. Europeans have a much more narrow foot than Americans. I am able to make these adjustments because I have a wider toe box to accommodate an American foot.
One’s home is often indicative of who you are. How would you describe yours?
My apartment? I have a canopy bed. It’s matte black and gold. It’s really cool. I have a huge mood board in the middle of my living room where I pin up ideas for shoes, little articles of leathers or little embellishments I have from my trips, color references, anything having to do with my shoes and ideas for shoes and models. It’s like an inspiration board. I have a blue couch, a blue rug. But really the reason I chose my apartment was because of the bathroom. The bathroom is the same size as my whole living space. It’s gigantic.
My dad inspires me more than anyone on this earth. He sets the most amazing example for me and I am forever grateful.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years I hope that Kendall Miles is continuing to grow and continuing to gain support, continuing to bring diversity to the industry, not only as an African American , but also as a female in a highly male dominated industry and I’m an American in a European dominated industry. So just diversity on all fronts. I also hope that in 10 years I’ll be able to establish something like a fashion fund or scholarship program or something to help other young designers that are interested in tapping into the luxury market to give them a chance because it’s really really difficult.
What is the one thing you would want to be remembered for?
If I could be remembered for one thing, I would want to be known as an inspiration for young women entrepreneurs looking to chase their dreams. I’ve always believed in going after what you want and through hard work and unparalleled dedication anything can be accomplished. Through my journey, I hope others can be encouraged to live their passion too.
If anyone encompasses the term entrepreneur, it’s Kendall Reynolds.
At age 23, Reynolds is already a standout in the shoe industry. With her approach, attitude and insatiable ambition, the possibilities are endless.