A conversation with Madelynn Loo, She is versitile entrepreneur from New Zealand.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
My name is Madelynn Loo (my friends call me Maddy), and I am the CEO and Founder of KIX Heels, as well as a senior program manager at a global tech company. I am also a part-time MBA student at Cass Business School in London, and a mother to a beautiful baby girl. I was born in Singapore and grew up in New Zealand, before moving to Amsterdam for work 4 years ago.
KIX is a hidden heel insole that can be worn inside flat shoes and boots to discreetly increase height and confidence. Made from comfortable gel, it retains its shape and has an adhesive layer that enables it to be attached to the inside of any shoe. The adhesive can be washed lightly with water to regain its adhesiveness. The product is designed to be unisex and can be worn by women and men.
At KIX we also sponsor and donate to a number of women’s foundations which customers can read about and select before making the purchase. 10% of the profits from their purchase would go to these foundations.
Where did you get the inspiration to start KIX Heels?
As a self-proclaimed “shortie”, I had been struggling for years to find boots that fit the length of my leg, and regularly felt self-conscious wearing ankle-height shoes.
Heels were unfortunately not an option back then, due to my daily commute (15 minute hike), and out of desperation, I would often resort to a make-shift KIX prototype of rolled up socks(?!) that I would stuff into my shoe under the heel. Those were the days! Needless to say, they were both uncomfortable and ineffective.
After pondering this and gathering feedback from family, friends, and customers in shoe stores (it seems the feeling was mutual), KIX was born.
Building on my amazing experiences working in both e-commerce and tech, I am proud to have launched KIX – a product and a platform catering to individuals worldwide who may be walking in my shoes (quite literally!). My goal with KIX is to empower all of us with choice; offering something unconventional and different to what the current industry offers.
Just like the push-up bra or shape-wear, both hidden products that ultimately revolutionised their respective industries, our hope is that KIX too will become a staple in every wardrobe.
How do you advertise your business?
We advertise solely on Instagram, with a lot of our business also coming from word of mouth!
To what factors would you attribute the success of KIX Heels?
KIX is an entirely niche product that is revolutionizing the way we view and customise our footwear. We have seen similar products become extremely successful in Asia, and Korea in particular, and are excited to start seeing similar interest with our customers in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe.
What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
I am enjoying building up our brand identity and online presence, working with talented freelancers and influencers, my marketing team and our distribution centers to ensure a smooth customer experience.
How many employees do you have currently?
We are a start-up team of 6 (including non-FTEs) and this operational model allows us to scale quickly while keeping fixed costs low – ensuring a lower price point for customers. We do, however, have exciting plans to grow the business further in the coming year with increased career and internship opportunities (we hire and work remotely!).
What do you look for in an ideal candidate when hiring for a position in your company?
Attitude is #1! Hard skills and even soft skills can be trained to a certain extent; but motivation, attitude, and pride in one’s work, are things that are hard to coach and are much more intrinsic to an individual. Attitude and a positive, proactive mindset is key!
What are your company’s goals for 2021?
Our goals in 2021 are to scale and increase our brand awareness through social and organic traffic. We also hope to run some focus groups and gather feedback to understand how we can continue to improve our product. This feedback will be crucial as we scale and increase our product range.
Have you noticed any significant changes in your target audience after COVID-19? If yes, how did you tackle these changes?
Definitely. With COVID-19, and people being at home, we have focused more on the comfort aspect of the product. After 6-10 months of working from home in bare feet and comfy house slippers, heels are just terribly uncomfortable to walk in. We foresee an increased focus in comfort wear in the near future and KIX will be a great addition for anyone wanting the height in combination with the comfort. (KIX in UGGs are a thing, and I have been wearing mine most of the winter months!)
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Just do it – if you have an idea, just start it and give it a go. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you; and even if you do fail, it is a great learning opportunity for you to get it right the next time!
You won’t have the whole picture from the very beginning, and the path can seem daunting at times, but if you break things down into sizeable steps (this is project management 101!), it is possible. Don’t feel you have to have all the answers before you start, just take the first step and enjoy the ride!