5 Minutes With... Candy Maaka-Stoten, KeilanaSkye

KeilanaSkye designer, Candy Maaka-Stoten

KeilanaSkye is a high-end fashion footwear label combining comfort with a sexy, elegant edge. Created in 2009 by self-taught designer, Candy Maaka-Stoten who wanted to offer women a shoe line with two things in mind: comfort and style. I met Candy at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Rocks, Sydney where Candy debuted the label and introduced fashion influentials to KeilanaSkye. At the age of 29, Candy is making waves in the industry. In 2011 KeilanaSkye (named after Candy's daughter) was chosen to supply shoes for FOXTEL's Australia's Next Top Model, and the label has since been featured in a number of magazines. We sat down with Candy to find out about KeilanaSkye.

KeilanaSkye debuted in 2009. What made you venture in to designing footwear?
I’ve always had a shoe obsession and it took a brief stint in women's wear design to help me realise. After this epiphany, I wanted to design shoes but I wanted my shoes to be different. I wanted to design shoes that not only look fabulous, but feel fabulous on. So I used my own experiences with painful heels and problems I have had when wearing high heels to help me design the shoes. 

As a footwear designer do you wear heels everywhere? 
No. I love heels, but I’m practical. I’m not someone who wears heels to do my grocery shopping or walk my dog or out for a casual brunch. I generally wear heels to work, out to dinner or events – that kind of thing.

What is your best advice for women who struggle to wear heels?
If they struggle with heel height I definitely recommend wearing platform heels. This lessens the strain on the foot, making them easier to wear. If they struggle walking in heels I recommend wearing heels with an ankle strap, an adjustable sling back or a style with ankle support, such as an ankle boot style. These styles adjust to the wearer’s foot and secures the shoe to the foot, making them easier to walk in. Ankle support is a huge help and can help with ‘balance’ as well.  

If you can’t break your shoes in or if the shoes just won’t mould to the foot then it’ll be the quality and/or materials used. Heels with synthetic linings will be uncomfortable, especially if they’re shoes you don’t wear socks with because synthetic linings don’t allow your feet to ‘breathe’. Feet will sweat and your foot moulds to the shoe instead of the shoe moulding to your foot. Shoes with genuine leather linings and insoles will help.

Your best tip to keeping suede shoes clean? 
I’m a huge fan of Waproo shoe care. Make sure you always spray your suede shoes twice with Waproo's Water and Stain Protector before wearing them. Waproo also has a fantastic suede cleaning block that helps remove scuffs and marks from the suede. Heavy rain and salt water should be avoided, but I guess it just comes down to common sense and regular maintenance. I wouldn’t recommend wearing fabulous suede shoes if you’re out for a big night. I know many women who have ruined (and lost) their shoes after a big night out. 

In a few words, how would you describe the KeilanaSkye consumer?  
Very cool! The KeilanaSkye woman is elegant and classy with a twist of a modern day edge.  She’s very fashion forward and adores quality.

How difficult is it to run your own label whilst having a family? 
It’s a lot of work and long days, but well worth it.  My hubby is super supportive and helps out wherever he can. I do a lot of work from my laptop, so can take work home and continue working after everyone has gone to bed.  A lot of the time, it means working till midnight and on the weekends but that comes with it.

When you design a new collection, where do you turn for inspiration?
I guess I find inspiration everywhere - on the street, in photos, magazines, in my home. Sometimes I close my eyes and an idea pops in to my head. Or sometimes just by chance. My Emma Anklet Pump derived from Keilana playing with a pair of Stevie samples while having one of her bracelets around her ankle. She’s also gives her input – if she doesn’t like a sketch, she’ll let me know! 

Your latest campaign was shot in Sydney's Milsons Point and Kirribilli. How did the campaign take shape?
I love Sydney and wanted to capture Sydney’s landmarks in the background. I had a look around The Rocks to try and get the Harbour Bridge and The Opera House in the background but knew it would be tough shooting there amongst the weekend crowds. So I tried the other side of the bridge and fell in love with Milsons Point. It’s so quiet, clean and very green and has a much more relaxed feel to it. There were a couple of shots that captured Luna Park as well. Because my designs are versatile, I wanted to capture that by achieving an everyday street vibe. I wanted the model to fit this vibe so I asked my musician friend, Danielle Blakey, to be the face of this campaign.

Which celebrity would you love to see wearing KeilanaSkye footwear?  
That’s a toughie. I would actually love to see any woman who owns a pair of my shoes, wearing them. Seeing any woman wearing my shoes in person would just make my day. I do have a few girl crushes though: I saw Emily Blunt when she was in Sydney recently and developed an instant love for her. Sandra Bullock and Rachel McAdams too. And after watching The Voice, Megan Washington ... woah, she is a stunner! 

We are lusting over your Elizabeth Pump. What makes you feel Spoilt?
My family, good friends, laughing. Most of all, Keilana. She is so smart, well behaved and very placid. She always makes me laugh and tells me how much she loves me, everyday.  I am so lucky and very Spoilt to be her Mum. Everyone who is loved by someone is Spoilt really….