We’ve all been asked the question “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” - But according to life coach Kathy Kelada, a much more revealing question to answer is, “If you were a shoe, what shoe would you be?”
The former personal shopper for Hollywood’s elite has just released a coffee table book titled Be the Shoe (available at betheshoe.com), that delves into that very question, and she uses her 16 years of motivational therapy and guidance experience to break down 14 personality types that match up with the reader’s favorite pair of shoes. For example, women who wear strappy sandals are usually big-picture people who create major change in the workplace. And women who prefer to wear running shoes are usually extremely supportive, compassionate people (busy moms, for example).
To find out what shoe you might be and what your footwear choice says about your personality, check out Footfiles’ interview with the author Kathy Kelada below.
What Shoe Are You? Find Out From Be the Shoe Author Kathy Kelada
FOOTFILES: So first and foremost, how did you come up with the idea of breaking down personality types by shoe? It’s such an interesting concept!
Kelada: It has always amazed me that no one has thought of it before! I’ve worked with a lot of women for a lot of years, from my early years giving classes, coaching women to put together a life plan, and before that being a stylist and a personal shopper, so I’ve worked with women for many years. And one day, I was working with someone who really couldn’t see past her own perspective, and I needed to find a way to make her see and step outside of that, so I just looked at her and I said, “If you were a shoe, what shoe would you be?” And she didn’t even question the metaphor, she just got it. And once we got past that, I thought, “I wonder if other women can relate to this?” And the next thing you know, I was using it all the time. I was asking a lot of women this question — young, old, it didn’t matter — they just all got it. I think women use shoes as an outer expression of their inner personality. Many times I would hear a friend or client say to me, “I’m going to this thing, and I need the right shoes.” So I think if you’re looking to portray a certain image, we will adopt it in our shoe wear.
FOOTFILES: Is matching a personality with a shoe more about the way the shoe looks? Or more about how it works?
Kelada: That’s a really good question. I think it’s a combination of all those things. If you think about a work boot, it’s insulated, it’s got a steel toe, there’s no penetrating that, it’s very protected. It’s got a heavy sole, so you’re not moving too quickly in any direction. If you’re in a strappy sandal, you’re exposed, it’s a little more feminine, it’s a little bit more of a statement shoe. And if you’re in a running shoe, and a lot of women are in running shoes during the day, especially young moms, it’s a supportive shoe. It’s something that’s there to support you in that very active, crazy hectic life that you’re living. So I think that the way we describe the shoes also gives an indication of what personality is coming out.
FOOTFILES: I feel like many women would want to be the “pretty” shoes and would cringe at the thought of being a clog! What do you say to that?
Kelada: [Laughs] You know, it’s really funny. I have done a lot of women’s events, and we always have a little table set up and we say, “What shoe are you?” and I will stand there, and I inevitably hear someone say to somebody else, “Oh God, please don’t let me be the clog.” And I always laugh because the clog, to me, is a shoe that is very nurturing and loving and supportive. A lot of nurses and a lot of health care workers wear clogs. And a lot of chefs wear clogs. So for me, that shoe is the shoe that is really the nurturing, caring, loving personality. And as I say, you may not want to be the clog, but you better know a clog, because when things go sideways in your life, you want that clog there to put your arms around you or feed you a meal or give you a cup of tea. So I think every shoe has its value.
FOOTFILES: What are the most popular shoe types, in your experience?
Kelada: Well I think that in the business world … I find that most of the women will lean toward the pump, the flat, the loafer — the shoes that are detail-driven, focused and determined. But when I move into other areas of life, it’s a combination of things. I’m a strappy sandal, so I tend to attract other strappy sandals, just outgoing, comfortable, flexible kind of people. But my daughter is not a strappy sandal, and her friends are very different, too. So I have a lot of my friends who are very different than me and will tend to be the shoes that kind of enhance or will improve on the things that I'm lacking in my life.
FOOTFILES: Part of the concept of the book is to encourage women to break out of their shoe type from time to time. Why do you think it’s important for women to try different shoes, and how does that foster personal growth?
Kelada: As a life coach, I know it’s very easy for people to fall into comfortable patterns. It sometimes can really shift your perspective on life if you are able to take on another shoe. And I have done that from time to time, especially when I was writing the book. I would experiment and wear a shoe that I would never wear for a whole day and see how different it is. If you’re always in a high heel boot or a wedge or a strappy sandal, to put on a pair of flats or to put on a pair of furry boots and walk around all day, it’s remarkable how differently you behave. And it’s so fun. It’s fun to do, and it’s an easy way to say, “Hm, now that I have these descriptions of these women, let me experiment a little bit.” If you’re a busy mom and you’ve got toddlers and you’re running around in your life, yes, you’re going to be a running shoe. But that might not be the shoe that you ultimately want to be, so there’s no harm in exploring it … We’re all looking to make our lives richer and more balanced. And a change of shoes can help with that. But it’s fun! This book is meant to be fun. I wanted it to be beautiful, I wanted women to have a good time with it, I wanted them to be able to share it with their friends. But at the same time, there is a message here, and that is, if the shoe you find you are is your shoe, then step into it and really be the shoe. And if it isn’t, change it.
FOOTFILES: The book is beautifully illustrated. How did you find the artist?
Kelada: Thank you. The illustrator is a wonderful, wonderful fashion artist in London, Bridget Davies. She is a fantastic artist. Her art is really wonderful. I saw a pair of shoes she had drawn on a blog about five years ago and I thought to myself, “Oh my god, she has got the sensibility.” It’s a little edgy, but it’s colorful, it’s not real detailed, and I knew she was the one, so I tracked her down. I knew I was going to be in Europe that summer, and I met her at the airport in London, and we sat down and had a conversation and I said, “Would you be in for this book?” And she said yes. So we worked together closely for three years, and she is the soul of the essence of this shoes. She really illustrated exactly what I was going for.
FOOTFILES: You held the book launch at Jimmy Choo in Beverly Hills. Why was that a perfect fit?
Kelada: Jimmy Choo tends to have all of the styles in the book in their line, so we had a really fun time encouraging women to try on different shoes and different styles and take on that personality for a moment and see how it felt. It was very fun. We really had a great time, and they were wonderful. It was a great location.
FOOTFILES: Is there anything else you want to add about Be the Shoe?
Kelada: The only thing is what we’ve found is that the most fun women seem to be having with the book is sharing the book with their friends. I encourage the conversation that comes from sharing the book with your best friends when you go out for dinner or lunch or cocktails or whatever; there is a lot of fun to be had from women sitting down together and sharing the feeling to be had about this. We’re moving into Mother’s Day now and I’m just about to put together a blog and put it into our newsletter about moms and mom shoes, and I’ve taken all the shoes and described the mom that is that shoe, so women can go in and find their mom. I’ve been sitting here writing all morning and I’ve just been laughing. I start writing about a shoe, and I’m like, “Oh my God, it’s me!” So that’s going to be fun. People can go to our website and sign up for our newsletter, and then they’ll get that mom description of mom shoes.