How did you get started designing shoes and coming into fruition of Diana E Kelly?
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved art and design and used to sketch on basically anything I could get my hands on (ie: napkins, looseleaf paper, etc). Three years ago I started designing a game day clothing line but since I was in school I did not have the time it took to really launch the company. Last year I was driving up for my second year of my masters program at UF and realized a change needed to be made. It was my father who pushed me to follow my design dream and it was last October when we switched from game day clothing to women’s leather shoes. After putting the line together in October, we started looking for responsible factories come November. We completed our sampling in March, placed our order, went into production over the summer and started selling our first collection about five weeks ago.
I pull inspiration from all aspects of my life but my original inspiration came from vintage brooches. Ever since I was a little girl I have collected brooches and love seeing what one piece can do for a dress, scarf, up-do and now.. A shoe!
My dream is to build the brand internationally with high quality, comfort, and affordability, but as my father says “Diana, you need to walk before you run” so currently we are focusing on providing an exceptional value for our customers.
Having the chance to be Miss Gainesville has been an incredible blessing. It has provided so many opportunities to get into the greets city of Gainesville and be a part of community events. One of my most favorite memories was participating in Shand’s Arts for Kids day, where we had the chance to craft and paint with children staying at Shands. For more information on the Miss Gainesville pageant, please go to www.missgainesville.com.
Competing in Miss Florida was an experience of a lifetime! Growing up I never thought about participating in a pageant but the more I learned about the Miss America organization and all of the scholarship opportunities available to young women the more I wanted to be a part of the program. This past July, I competed in Miss Florida and placed first runner-up, which was a ticket to the National Sweetheart Pageant, held in Hoopeston, IL. This was the first time I had competed at a national level and it was an incredible honor to represent our great state of Florida, place third runner-up and meet so many other talented women from across the nation!