Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Keya Martin
Meet Keya Martin: The Black-Woman Behind This Travel-Inspired Shoe Line
Founder and Artistic Director of Keeyahri, Keya Martin, ditched her corporate career to pursue her passion in fashion. With an emphasis on luxury footwear, Keya draws influence from her travels around the world.
Her latest designs feature a ribbon swirl heel, inspired by Hiroshi Nakamura and NAP architects who created the Ribbon Chapel in Japan.
We sat down with Keya to discuss her journey in fashion, advice she may have for other women, and what is next for Keeyahri.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to leave Corporate America to start your brand?
Keya: Last year, I was getting ready to put in my resignation letter when the global pandemic hit and ended up being laid off. It was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to focus on marketing my brand and all the back-end work it takes to become an entrepreneur.
I was passionate about footwear, specifically women’s footwear. I saved up money and flew to Italy to attend a trade show and show off my designs. It really just started from there.
Travel Noire: How have your travels inspired your designs?
Keya: I approach every trip as if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The inspiration from each trip can come from anything whether it be nature, fashion, and even art. I use those elements and try to incorporate the feeling into my designs.
Travel Noire: What advice do you have for other women looking to take a similar path?
Keya: The one thing I wish I did earlier and would advise any young woman to do, is to create a proof of your concept. Create designs and then show people your work. Also, ask for feedback! Make sure that there are people out there who would want to buy your product.
Travel Noire: What advice do you have for other Black women entrepreneurs?
Keya: My best piece of advice is to have drive. You will receive a lot of no’s, but you have to keep going. Shoot your shot at every opportunity, make connections on your journey, and even if you are a little scared keep pushing.
Travel Noire: What is next for you and Keeyahri?
Keya: I am creating new designs and styles, while also diving into new colorways. I hope to scale my business internationally within the year and also be featured in retail stores.
Travel Noire: What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Keya: Women’s History Month is a reminder to reflect on the women around the world who have accomplished their goals— especially Black women. Black women happen to be the backbone of my business, I could never be where I am today without them.
You can find more from Keya and her brand at: keeyahri.com.