We were recently welcomed to the new digs of Radical Yes! The team is producing flat shoes for active women to rock in whatever walk of life they are dominating right now. They make a limited number of each rad style to ensure you have that exclusive feel that goes with the extreme comfort of their carefully planned designs. From the shop decor, to the carefully arranged seating, and of course the shoes themselves, everything has been designed here to ensure you leave feeling cared for and pampered with very thankful feet.
We caught up with Kerryn Moscicki, to find out more about the exciting local brand, the inspiration behind the new shop and shoes, and why they chose to make a permanent home right here in Melbourne’s inner north.
Inner Circle: For those who don’t know you yet, what is Radical Yes! all about?
Kerryn Moscicki: We make beautiful shoes for intelligent women and we do so from a place of joy, creativity and collaboration. As a rule we only make flat shoes and we only make shoes for women because as a Designer that is what I am authentically passionate about. Through the brand we also try to work as advocates for the local and international creative community to provide a platform to expose our customers to the work of other creative women.
IC: How did Radical Yes! come about, and why shoes?
KM: The initial idea for the brand was born from the clarity I gained after taking a 12-month sabbatical from my full-time role as Product Developer for a large fashion wholesaler to complete Yoga Teacher Training at the Australian Yoga Academy. Obviously you don’t wear shoes when practising Yoga and in this way I had always felt a bit wrong wearing a big chunky running shoe with my Yoga tights. So it was from this place my idea evolved to develop a range of flat shoes that had the comfort of a trainer but were more versatile and sophisticated in their profile. It was from this hybrid of ideas and working closely with our maker that we decided to insert an athletic insole into our first original desert boot inspired silhouette – aptly and intentionally named ‘Abundance’. This shoe is still in the collection four years on, as are the athletic insoles however the range has now grown to include slingbacks, loafers, slides and most excitingly our new Melbourne made sandals.
IC: Your Fitting Salon is also located in North Melbourne, does this area hold a significance for you?
KM: Absolutely. My family and I have lived in North Melbourne for many years, and we have a very strong affection for the area. Our sons attend Primary School and Kinder in North Melbourne and to be honest our day-to-day routine between the 5 or so blocks of home and our Queensberry Street store see’s us completely ensconced in the beautiful wide streets of this brilliant neighbourhood. We often joke it is like a country town.
IC: I know community is important to the Radical Yes! team. Have you found the local community in North Melbourne welcoming, and how to you hope to engage with locals?
KM: Absolutely! We love our local community and feel really proud to call this neighbourhood home. Our local customers love that this is such a strong part of our brand identity and having lived in North and West Melbourne for just on 10 years it was a really natural choice to put our first permanent store in our beloved local neighbourhood. Many of our North Melbourne customers have been with us right from the start, back in 2013, and I think they feel a part of watching the brand grow. This is so special for us.
In the coming month’s we are hosting workshops with other local creative businesses such as the wine bar Clever Polly’s who will be hosting a Natural Wine tasting event in the Fitting Salon in November. In December we will be partnering up with the team from Estuary Yoga to present a Self Care workshop for tips on how to get through the festive season with kindness to self. Both are free events for our local customers to have a space to come together and share in the spirit of creativity and community.
IC: You have just released the COSMIC WONDER sandals, which are your first shoes to be made entirely right here in Melbourne. Homegrown is back with a vengeance, so it’s great to see more local brands keeping it real. Is this something you will continue to do, and what made you decide to go fully local with this shoe?
KM: We would love to continue making Melbourne made product and have started some lose concept ideas for Winter as a follow-up to this program. It will really depend on how our customers respond to the different price architecture needed for a locally made product but I would love to continue contributing to the local economy in this way. From little things big things grow.
IC: Radical Yes! seems to be something of a female powerhouse!
How did you all find each other?
KM: Yes it’s true we are team of brilliant, intelligent women, but actually it was my husband Leo and myself from the start workshopping the ideas behind the brand. Leo has an extensive background in Graphic Design and Marketing and from the very beginning, literally around our kitchen table every night after we had finished our ‘other’ jobs and put the kids to bed we would be hanging to get back to conjuring up the crazy world that is Radical Yes!
IC: And about all these amazing shoes! They are designed in a studio behind the North Melbourne fitting salon, but what is the idea and inspiration behind the design of your shoes?
KM: I believe the range comes from a very authentic place. Something I am conscious of when designing the product is that we are creating objects that are very useful. They have to be comfortable first and foremost, followed pretty closely by being unique and extremely wearable which is one of the reasons we only make flat shoes. There is a type of pragmatism to what we make in this way because as a designer I am always asking myself ‘will our customers be able to wear these 50 times or more?’.
This is partly in response to the fact that wearing an item 50 times instead of 5 (the fast fashion average) reduces carbon emissions by 400% per item (not to mention the water saving in the manufacturing process), and also my own real life (and often disheartening) experience of working in fast fashion and seeing the waste that comes from developing ‘product for product’s sake’ that ends up as landfill after 2 wears. For this reason we create shoes that are the literal everyday go-to favourites built-in small run quantities in very good quality materials that will last. The silhouettes we build match our customers ‘real’ mobile lifestyles (which is catching public transport and walking everywhere – often with a pram or a whole bunch of bags), that can work equally well dressed up for a hop at the Gallery or dressed down with Yoga leggings.
This idea of building a long lifespan into our products is also reiterated through our ‘Toe Tapper Trade’ program where people can bring in their pre-loved Radical Yes shoes each season to ‘trade up’ to a new pair. We pass the pre-loved shoes onto our Not-For-Profit partner Wear For Success (who help dress disadvantaged long-term unemployed people) and our customers receive a $25 gift card toward their next purchase so it’s a win for everyone.
IC: You’ve undertaken some interesting collaborations with artists and manufacturers, could you tell us more about those pieces?
KM: We really enjoy the collaborative process and have created a number of small-run, exclusive pieces with various brands and artists. This includes Kip & Co. homewares, Melbourne designers of African heritage, Collective Closets, ceramicist Ruby Pilven, New Zealand’s Studio Home and most recently Bianca Mavrick who is a Brisbane based jeweller. We love that through collaboration we can learn from others, we can pass on our knowledge and most of all, we love to see other people’s response to what we do. It’s been an important part of our brand since we began and will continue to be into the future.
IC: Lastly, where can people find you and explore more of Radical Yes!?
KM: We love meeting our customers ‘for real’ in our Fitting Salon concept store which is located at 554 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne. We also have a beautiful online store that is the home of our digital publication Yes! Journal that tells the story of what we are about really beautifully. You can find this at www.radicalyes.com.au . Our Instagram (@radicalyes) is also a great place to catch the visual side of our storytelling and is something we love to put our creativity and time into.
Photography supplied by Radical Yes!