Pair Up + Keds
HAND-DYED SNEAKERS
It was an incredible honor to collaborate with the shoe brand, Keds. They made the first sneaker for women, over 100 years ago (1916, wow)!! They continue to empower women, with a team made up of mostly ladies (nearly 90%), and an entirely female leadership team.

We put together a giveaway for 10 lucky winners to receive a pair of hand-dyed sneakers, made by yours truly. They also came with matching custom shoe laces sewn from fabric scraps.

Keep scrolling for some Q&A between me and the Keds creative team >>> 
WHY DID YOU START PAIR UP?
I originally went to school for Graphic Design and have been freelancing for the past 10 years. My favorite clients were the individuals and small business that were just starting out. They needed help with everything, from a visual identity to a marketing strategy. Being deeply involved in launching businesses allowed me to flex creative muscles I didn’t know I had. It left me feeling inspired to explore additional opportunities for myself and my overflowing creative toolbox.

I have a handful of small businesses in my past that didn’t stick. I sold knitted accessories, paper goods, and digital design templates. All of these small businesses were a success in my eyes, each one teaching me something new about how to create, hustle, and adapt.

Pair Up first popped into my head and heart, almost 2 years ago. I was living in Boston and started to feel incredibly restless. It was very clear to me that I needed to spend less time by myself, indoors, slouched down in front of the computer. I took a step back and asked myself what am I good at? What do I know? When I landed on the idea of a clothing brand, I quickly realized how similar clothing and graphic design are to each other. There are shapes, measurements, materials, textures, color… it’s basically what I already do on screen but you can wear it. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a huge learning curve but it felt like a very natural transition for me. I’m having a blast!
WHAT's your dye process?
My pleasure! For this KEDS collaboration, I start by mixing my dyes. This requires warm to hot water and vigorous stirring until the powder has dissolved. Thankfully, these powdered dyes don’t require boiling water, so I’m able to use it straight from the tap. This saves me a lot of time and energy. I then put the ready-to-use dye in a combination of squirt bottles and spray bottles. I use a few different application methods, to achieve our worn-in sun-drenched look.

To prep the shoes, I soak them in a fixative bath made up of water and Soda Ash. This step increases the pH level, enabling the dye to react with the fiber molecules and fix to the fabric. If we didn’t do this, our beautiful dye would just wash right off.

From here, I begin to apply the dye in layers. I start by squirting it along the seams and edges of the rubber sole. Because the shoe is still wet from the fixative bath, the dye spreads slowly and randomly. Then, I’ll use my spray bottle to mist on light layers of color to the main body of the shoe. I do this until I’m happy with the results. You have to work fast because as soon as the dye hits the fabric, it starts to set. I’ll let the dye sit for a few hours and then wash any excess out with soap and water. The final step is letting them dry in the sun (it’s still nice and hot here in San Diego) and taking a moment to appreciate the finished results.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DYE 1 PAIR of SHOES?
From start to finish, these shoes take around 3-4 hours. The more units I can do at once, the more efficiently I’m able to use this time.
What’s special about THESE SHOES?
Each pair is incredibly unique, like a mini painting. I held them in my hands, and carefully applied color until they felt just right.
HOW WOULD YOU STYLE THESE SHOES?
Whenever I wear sneakers, I find myself pairing them with a pant that has a tapered ankle or a super fun and flowy dress.

There is nothing more satisfying than dripping dye onto a bright white sneaker! The second color hits the shoes, I start imagining the outfit they’d accompany :)
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE BRANDS YOU WORK WITH?
Teaming up with another brand to create a one-of-a-kind piece is a lot of work. There’s a good amount of back and forth that taps into our valuable time, resources and creative energy. Before diving in, I ask myself a handful of questions: Would I shop with this brand? Are we driven by the same ethics? Do we have a similar aesthetic? Would I be excited to grab a cup of coffee with this maker or this team? Would their audience be interested in me, and vice verse? What’s their track record? And don’t forget to listen to your gut? Does it FEEL right?
CONTACT US
emma@pairupetc.com
Escondido, CA

© 2017 - 2021 Pair Up
THANK YOU!
OOPS. TRY AGAIN.