Back to School with Erin Simons

Erin is our Kid’s Business Unit Director here at KEEN HQ, and has been with the company for five years. She comes from an extensive background in the footwear industry and is also balancing a busy home life with her family, which includes two kids under the age of five! We recently snagged a few minutes to catch up with her to talk about the direction of our upcoming Kid’s line this fall.

Could you tell us a little bit about working on the Kids line?
It’s a bit counter intuitive, but what I love about the kids category is the complexity. Adults generally have different shoes for the work place, the gym or going out at night, but kids are using the same shoes to do 80 million different things every day. And ‘Kids’ includes everyone from a newborn to a 14 year old! When you think about how different their needs are, from a baby to a toddler, to a gradeschooler, to a high school student, you can see there are a lot of moving parts. There are different footwear needs, emotional needs, and developmental needs within each stage. What I love about working in the Kids marketplace is the complexity and the fun in it.

What was the driving direction for Fall Back-To-School?
It was basically to take the best of what the outdoor industry offers, and what the athletic industry offers, and do a mash-up. It marries the lightweight, bright colors of an athletic shoe, and combines it with the durability of an outdoor shoe. We wanted to bring more trend and style to the collection, while always keeping things functional and versatile.

Any goals for this upcoming season?
We want to reach new consumers where style and trend are just as important as form and function. We’re well known for our water shoes and hiking boots for kids, but aren’t necessarily the first to come to mind when it comes to the everyday shoe. By combining more trend-right elements, we feel we can offer the best of both worlds.

Tell us about your family and your favorite part about summer!
I have a one year old and a three year old—both boys. They love to play outside, kick soccer balls, ride their scooters, ride bikes…wrestle each other, fight over toys. Oh, and scream really loud. They’re pretty typical toddlers. Basically the more we can get outside the better. If we can get them outside running around and in fresh air, they are more likely to go to bed easier, eat healthier, and it’s kind of just a repeat cycle.

In the summer we like to get out and go camping. We plan a few camping trips every summer and we’ll bring a standup paddle board and an inner tube and get them floating on the lake and go on short hikes…just doing what we can that’s manageable with a 1 and a 3 year old. And when it’s hot out, a favorite activity is running through the sprinkler in the backyard of course.

Favorite perk of the job?
What I appreciate about KEEN is the investment back into the company and a greater ability to take risks and approach things in a different way. It’s also really important to me to have work/life balance. KEEN adopts a work hard play hard mentality that fits my life goals. And the people. I think KEEN has an unparalleled group of people that are smart, fun, and who care about each other and the world.

And also being able to check out standup paddle boards for the weekend!

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 Photos: Euri Park for KEEN Footwear