Every woman deserves a little bit of shimmer in their closet, and this is what SSY Designs and Kelli Shaughnessy are all about. A passionate creative, Kelli started SSY Designs with a revolutionary idea that would change shoes forever — and that idea was ‘Shoe Jewelz’. A shoe accessory like no other, that can literally transform your shoes into anything you want them to be.
But Kelli doesn’t stop at adding shimmer to your ‘shoedrobe,’ because her business ethos is all about giving back. From supporting countless charities, to starting the ‘Love Me, Love U— Collection’ — wherein 100% of proceeds will be donated to charity; Kelli Shaughnessy exemplifies that being a GirlBoss isn’t just about success (although that is something she has aplenty) but also about using your success to make the world a better place.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background — what inspired you to start SSY Designs?
My background is in the arts however I took a hiatus and went to the corporate world to secure my future. (my financial future that is). I thought that was going to be my future so at night I would paint, dance, draw and even restore furniture that I found in second hand stores.
SSY Designs started as a single product, called shoe jewelz that we have patented and trademarked globally. We have over 100+ designs that we create and manufacture in our studio. I ended up buying my own industrial sewing machines and hired a talented seamstress to help my ideas come to life — and boy did they! I am so happy with our line. Its a slow moving process but we are enjoying every minute. Plus everything is made in our studio right here in NYC.
What are ‘Shoe Jewelz’ and how is it going to change our shoe game forever?
Shoe Jewelz take your shoes to the next level. All you do in slip them over the ball of your shoe and voila… a brand new pair. You can honestly have one pair of shoes but as many styles as you want just by adding shoe jewelz. Fringe for that flapper night, bugs for a picnic, studs for your rock and roll days, fur, hearts, rhinestones, beads, snakes, butterflies, you name it!
SSY Design is all about social responsibility as well. Could you tell us about the soon to be launched ‘Love Me, Love U’ collection?
SSY is grateful for its amazing opportunities, and we are constantly working to give back. Whether its global or interpersonal we strive to make peoples days or lives easier. The SSY Team has put together a huge sewing kit for a young Haitan child in the Turks and Caicos after we found out that he loves to sew and design clothing but doesn’t have access to a machine or fabrics. When their government shut down, we posted an ad and hired a furloughed employee. We paid her daily, so she could keep food on her families table and not fall behind. The job was over as soon as our government reopened but we met the best person and honestly miss having her. We have sales just for minimum wage workers and price things at 5 dollars and give them a 10 dollar coupon. Our cups are definitely not running over but we feel better when someone does too.
As for Love Me Love U, we just filled for a 501.c3 and we are currently designing pendants and t-shirts with its amazing logo. We are praying it comes back accepted for a trademark. We will launch Lovemeloveu.org as a platform to learn about our charitable endeavours and who we support. Basically, 100% of the proceeds of whatever we sell on that site will go straight to a charity. We haven’t decided if we will partner with specific organisations or allow the customer decide where to donate. In any case we are extremely excited, the first line will be priced to buy at under $100.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur so far?
I think the biggest challenge I still struggle with, is instant gratification. If I design something I need it made right away. Unfortunately, it can get costly and it may not be the best design after all.
What advice do you have for women who would like to become a GirlBoss like yourself?
The GirlBoss title feels so cool! Ive created this business organically, and I let my instincts lead the way (MOST of the time). I may not do it all but I know how to do almost every aspect of my company. If I don’t know it, I research the heck out of it. I have made a lot of mistakes however I can say that I pretty much let them roll, Iearn and move on. My team are also an amazing group of young women who are all Girl-bosses in their own right.