I remember as clear as day the first time I heard of Lillybee, Simply Soles founder and owner Kassie Rempel’s self-designed shoe line. I was a busy Hill staffer, on my feet all day long, which meant that when I wasn’t focused on policy, I was focused on how my feet felt. (Although on some days, how my feet felt definitely distracted me from focusing on policy.) At the time, I was working full time on one issue (a luxury, even for a Senate staffer) and I worked on that one issue (climate change, if you must know) with an office that could not have been farther located from my boss’s office in the Senate complex. That meant a lot of shuffling (sometimes running) between our respective suites, always clad in three-inch heels.
One night, after such a long day of back-and-forth meetings, home, feet up on the coffee table, catching up with personal emails, I read with interest that week’s Daily Candy Deal: a discount for readers on any pair of Lillybee shoes. I had never heard of Lillybee but immediately clicked on the link to the Simply Soles webiste where there was a small but gorgeous new collection of shoes called Lillybee, designed by Kassie Rempel, a local woman (I call her Goddess) who also owned a shoe store (I call it empire). I knew I would have to own at least one pair of these shoes. Where had Lillybee been all my life?
After designing mental outfits with each shoe Lillybee had to offer, I bought the Hilary, a vibrant blue patent leather pump with a chunky heel that would help soften the blow as I stomped through the marble halls of Congress. But weeks later, I couldn’t get the Angelina out of my head. A little black dress in shoe form, I just knew that I had to make it part of my collection as well. (I did.) I also coveted the Gwyneth, a silver pointy-toed wedge, but sadly it didn’t come in my size, leading me to a desperate step-sisters of Cinderella moment when I contemplated what measures I was willing to take to squeeze my size 8 feet into the available size 7s. (I now own two pairs of Gwyneths, appropriately sized.) All the shoes in the 2008 collection, the Jessica, the Halle, even the vegan Natalie (Kassie is probably scared that I remember the names of her Lillybees like they are children) would not only have coordinated well in my wardrobe but would have kept my feet stylishly happy.
What sets Lillybee apart for me is not just that the line offers shoes that are unique, affordable, comfortable, and fashion forward, though all those qualities are certainly reason(s) enough to love a brand. I love Lillybee because through this shoe obsession of mine, I grew to know Kassie, who has quickly become a “sole sister” to me. Today, when I need (or want, which in my book can be the same as need) a new pair of shoes, I immediately consult Kassie. I know that her advice is going to be honest. She has stopped me from buying shoes that she didn’t think looked right. She has introduced me to designers I now can’t live without, including Lillybee. She kept me upbeat during the Beatrix days. Her opinion means the world to me. But mostly, it’s her friendship that I value.
That I might get to help create a new Lillybee is just extra heel on the shoe.