Josh Wayman set up Kandee in 2010 and it has since become a firm favourite with celebrities across the UK, US and Europe. The 22-year-old created the shoe collection based upon his love of sweets and many describe it as the brand with ‘100% sugar, but no calories”. Amy Childs has recently become an ambassador of the brand, whilst well-known faces such as Victoria Beckham, Rita Ora and Frankie Sandford have also been spotted in his delicious designs.
I was absolutely thrilled when Josh agreed to answer my questions, as I am a huge fan of Kandee and am a regular browser of their e-boutique. If you are a shoe fanatic, aspiring designer or fashion lover then hopefully you will find the interview entertaining and informative! I know I did!
I understand you set up Kandee in 2010, so in just under two years – the brand has become extremely well known and your shoes are regularly spotted on the feet of major celebrities! What do you think sets Kandee aside from other brands?
Kandee is a very fashion forward, colourful brand. We are extremely customer focused and we always follow our brand philosophy of ‘high end at high street pricing’ and design is very important to me! Kandee have a very active social networking team working on Twitter and Facebook – this allows us to connect with customers frequently and easily. All of this I believe contributes to our growing success!
“I wanted the brand to encapsulate that feeling of going into a sweet store and the sheer amazement at the variety and colours available”
What initially gave you the inspiration to set up Kandee?
It all really came to me on a ‘random’ Sunday afternoon – I was working as a hairdresser and decided to design a collection of shoes – this developed and I released my first collection, ‘Created in CandyLand’!
Did you always know you wanted to become a shoe designer? Did you always have an interest in fashion and design?
I have always been interested in fashion and design! My grandmother was always very fashion focused and well dressed and this is where I got my inspiration from.
Many designers claim to have an ‘ideal wearer’ who inspires their designs. Did anyone inspire you to start up Kandee – or anyone you imagined wearing your designs?
I wanted every woman to be able to pick a pair of Kandee’s and wear them! Fashion is all about confidence and therefore I wanted to create a brand which would help build that confidence in being individual, colourful and ‘fashion forward’.
Have any certain sweets/chocolate bars inspired any specific shoes or collections or do you mix and match your favourite?
I LOVE sweets! Every single sweet or ‘candy’ has inspired me in some way – whether that be colour, texture, packaging or smell. I wanted the brand to encapsulate that feeling of going into a sweet store and the sheer amazement at the variety and colours available. That excitement is something which I always want each and every one of my collections to cause in women.
At only 22, it is amazing what you have achieved in such a short amount of time! You must be immensely proud of yourself! What worked well for you when setting up the brand and how would you advise others to go about following in your footsteps/working in fashion?
Fashion is extremely hard work – however is also extremely rewarding, nothing is more exciting than receiving a tweet picture from a Kandee fan or seeing someone wearing Kandee.
Every Kandee collection has been bigger and better than ever! Do you aim to surprise your customers with new, experimental collections or do you watch what is popular and base your ideas on this?
I think it’s important to keep developing; it’s always important to listen to customers and based on that I always aim to design collections which build on bases/shapes and then develop them with new materials or colours.
Kandee has been seen on the feet of so many celebrities, especially in the past year or so. Who has been your favourite celebrity to work with?
I have to say every one of the celebrities we have worked with have been fantastic – however, Nicola Roberts is a very firm favourite of mine – she is very sweet.
You have recently brought out the pink Limonade limited edition range, whereby 10% is donated to the pink ribbon foundation. Can you tell us anymore about this involvement and what it aims to do?
Charity has always been very important to me. Breast Cancer is the most common disease worldwide – this week alone 750 women will be diagnosed with the disease in the UK. Approximately 1 in 9 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The Pink Limonade and Pink Lemonade will help The Pink Ribbon Foundation to assist a number of charities in the United Kingdom by providing grants. Our campaign is important to relaunch the awareness of Breast Cancer and I believe this collection will help increase awareness in the UK and further afield.
“My designs are mostly based on sweets because I am obsessed with them”
How far in advance do you begin planning your new collections? Do you collect inspiration from everywhere you go, or is it purely based on sweets?
Collections can take months or some styles take years in development. I am very committed to making sure that I only release designs which I personally love – this dedicated to each and every style is important to me! My designs are mostly based on sweets because I am obsessed with them – however I do pick inspiration from different periods in time or cultural fashion.
One of my favourite things about Kandee is the names you give the shoes (and the shoes as well, of course!). How do you come up with the names?
The naming process is near the last stage in the development of each collection however it is such a fun process, I literally love to give each shoe a personality of some type!
I love the idea of a ‘Gaga’ shoe, or a ‘Minaj’. Do you have any plans to base a shoe/collection on a well known musician/pop star?
This is certainly something I could see Kandee doing – watch this space!
Do you have an all-time favourite shoe that you have designed? Or are you excited by all of the designs?
I literally love all my creations – I think it is very important to favourite each design.
What are your favourite sweets?
I adore all sweets – however my all time favourite sweet has to be fizzy straws!
How long does it take you to design a shoe, have a prototype made-up and then launched onto your e-boutique? What process do you go through?
It can take a few months up to a year before a design appears in the e-Boutique. I start by drawing on inspiration/mood board, then developing the shape/style then to sampling – through various re-makes to the final design.
Is Kandee purely UK based or do you have a large USA fan base too?
The brand started with a clear ‘cult’ following online in Europe – this has developed in just under one year, to having a fan base worldwide. Last week I got invited to Malaysia!
I think it is absolutely fabulous that you have a blog to accompany the website, as it really allows those who are interested in the brand to get to know the designer! Do you enjoy writing the blog and interacting with your fans?
I love writing the Mr Kandee blog – I wish I could blog more however sometimes I don’t have the time in the week to write a new post. However, I never want to get a ‘ghost’ writer – it has to be me!
What is the most rewarding thing about designing and running Kandee?
Seeing people wear the shoes and the sheer excitement people get from wearing Kandee.
Thank you ever so much to Josh who kindly took the time to answer my questions! It is such a pleasure to interview someone who is so passionate about their work, as Josh clearly is. I love the way Josh is still very much involved in publicising the brand and writing the blog, where other designers might have others do this for them! I really admire Josh and am very inspired by his work ethic! You can visit Kandee’s e-boutique and website here – http://www.kandeeshoes.com/ .
Please note: the images used in this article do not belong to me and I do not take credit for them. They are used purely for reference purposes only.