Folks We Love with Kathryn Eisman | owner, High Heel Jungle
Do you love socks? Like, really love socks? Wear them with your high heels like I do (except by high heels, I mean Birkenstocks) type of love? Everyone, meet Kathryn Eisman. I was fortunate enough to meet her by happenstance through another friend, and this woman is a force! She is the founder and creative director of cult fashion sock line High Heel Jungle. Two-time Emmy Award TV journalist. Currently the entertainment reporter for Australia's No.1 national morning show, Sunrise. Previously head of Fashion and Lifestyle for E! News in LA and Chief Features Reporter for WNBC in New York. Author of two best-selling books, including How To Tell A Woman By Her Handbag. Erm, yeah, that’s it. What a babe! I was thrilled she agreed to be interviewed and that we have this to share with all of you. Enjoy and wishing you all a happy, happy Mother’s day!
Interview by Kacy Byxbee, editor, Your Zen Mama
Who is in your family?
My husband Siimon Reynolds who I first started going out with when I was 17 years old! Our two daughters, Capri ( 5 ) and Monet (1). Oh, and out giant Maine Coon cat Sampson and Ragdoll, Lamington (named after my favorite Aussie dessert).
Where are you from?
I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up going to the beach with my family almost every day. It is incredible how much water and nature is part of who you are when you are from down under.
How did you come up with your idea for High Heel Jungle?
I've always believed people express themselves through details and thought that wearing fabulous socks with heels, sneakers or whatever instantly made an outfit feel fresh, cute and sexy (oh, and so much more comfortable!). No one was making cute socks, so I started making them myself and wearing them on the job interviewing celebrities. Literally, every single person would stop the interview and ask where I got them and ask for a pair, from Zoe Kravitz to Margot Robbie to Gina Rodriguez to Zoe Saldana (some chanted for them and put them on mid-interview!). Even the guys I was interviewing were into them, from Jon Hamm to Jude Law. The make-up artists on set would want to buy them, it was overwhelming! I started to think that there was a real market. I launched High Heel Jungle Socks a month before the birth of my second child, and within a few weeks we were stocked at Ron Robinson at Fred Segal, Traffic and was getting requests from Nina Garcia and Lupita N'Yongo and Kylie Jenner and was featured in Vogue and Who What Wear in them. It's taken on a life of its own, and is such a joy to see how much women love them and how they empowered and free they feel in our socks!
What were your biggest challenges starting your business?
While I've always worked in fashion in some capacity covering NY Fashion Week for NBC or E!, it was still in the capacity of journalist, not designer. There was so much I had to learn about production, samples, timelines and sourcing materials! I'm also more of a creative, so learning the business side of things was crucial.
What do you miss the most about Australia?
My parents! We are such a close family, and it's hard to be away from my parents since I've been based in the US pretty much since I was 21. Especially when you have little kids, your family is your world, and I miss the day to day of having them come over and family dinners and all the usual stuff I had with my grandparents growing up. We Facetime nearly every day, so that makes the great divide less great. I also miss the pristine beaches, food and my childhood friends.
What do you like the most about living in California?
I feel so grateful to live in a city that is full of dreamers pursuing their dreams, it's unlike any other city in that respect. The scale of opportunity is enormous, and it's a city full of creative people who are making their crazy wild ideas come to fruition. I lived in New York for nearly 6 years, and that was a fantastic experience, especially in my early 20's. Now, I appreciate the fantastic weather and the fact that LA has become the hub for creativity, innovation, green tech and of course Entertainment, which is a huge part of my job.
How have things changed with your partner since you became parents?
Oh, where do I begin? Haha. Apart from having not slept in for 5 and a half years, (ha) I feel like I never have enough time to get everything done, but love how immensely full my life is. There is no time to be bored. When I had my second child, I tried to redesign my life so I wasn't in the office 9-5 like I had been at E! News with my first. I want to be able to do school drop off and pick up, and if that means I have to work until 11pm some nights once they're asleep, so be it. I love controlling my schedule more. My heart is fuller than I could have ever imagined, and I feel the most profound contentment when it's just the four of us doing simple silly things like having our daily dance off's in the kitchen. Seeing what an incredible father my husband is makes me love him more than ever. My industry is non-linear, but as long as my family is healthy and happy, I feel blessed beyond measure. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
What are you reading?
I'm rereading Why People Fail, 16 Obstacles to Success and How You Can Overcome Them, written by my hubby, Siimon Reynolds! It's such a fantastic resource when you're in the trial and error world of entrepreneurship.
Where do you feel most inspired?
Listening to great music, waking up early and going for a walk with Monet while the birds are still chirping and the air has that distinctive freshness and stillness before the rest of the world wakes up.
What does femininity mean to you?
For me, Femininity means being strong without becoming hard. As I've gotten older, I actually feel my heart has softened, but my internal fortitude has strengthened.
What's the most challenging part about being a mom?
The lack of time to just do nothing. I'm either going 100% at work or going 100% with my kids, it would be nice to have a little more time to do nothing 100%! ha
What do the day to day operations look like for you?
Unless I'm doing a morning TV segment for Good Day LA or the like, we usually start with family breakfast and dancing. It's incredible how much quality time you can have as a family unit before 9am, a concept that pre-kids would have seemed insane. Every day is so different. I might be designing a new collection of socks one day, or overseeing pulls from stylists and celebrities the next or handling orders. The same day I'll likely be prepping and doing a TV interview with the stars about their new film for my morning show. A couple of days a week I'll be attending an event for work. Lots of family time and at the moment Game Of Thrones is a high priority the moment we've put the kids to bed! Our one-year-old has platinum blonde hair and is just learning to walk with a walker so we call her The White Walker!
Where does your business acumen come from?
For me, it's very intuitive. I realized a while ago that if I feel something in my gut, it's there for a reason and that I need to listen to it. I think it is so important to have integrity in everything you do, from using quality materials to having the brand represent a message that is true to who I am and working with people who are passionate, kind and share the same brand ethos. I designed these socks to make getting dressed fun again, so we make our work environment fun and supportive, and from that place great things happen!
How do you maintain balance with work, a partner, kids, and yourself? Any tricks?
Often, I don't. Some things have to be sidelined each day. You can't have the perfect "balanced" day each day! Some days, I'd love to get my workout in, but I don't because I don't want to lose that time with the kids. Pick just a couple of things each day that are important and do them really well. Oh, and be clear about what's non-negotiable.
What are you watching right now?
Game of Thrones, Billions, 60 Minutes. Don't try getting me out of the house on a Sunday night! ha
What does self-care mean and look like for you? What do you do for yourself?
Positive self talk. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most essential relationship in our lives. Are we going to be our best friend or our worst enemy? We need to be aware of how we speak to ourselves all day because that internal dialong can either build us up or tear us down.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
I was getting so many important questions from women who either had an idea for a business, but didn't know how to start or who had thriving careers but felt out of balance in other aspects of their life, so I started taking on a few clients to coach in a system called Trifecta. It's my mission to work with them to ensure that the three main pillars of their life are at a high level: 1. career or a sense of purpose 2. relationship 3. health and beauty. It's changed their lives and it's changed me see people become the best versions of themselves. I feel very lucky to be pat of that journey. You can inquire about Trifecta Coaching at Assistant@kathryneisman.com.
What makes you feel sustained?
My incredible husband who makes me feel truly loved
My girlfriends who make me laugh
My Mom and sister who I call for advice every day
Creating every single day
Focusing on my character not my status
What advice do you have for new mothers?
Be kind to yourself. You're doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. And don't be afraid to ask for help, nature did not design us to do it alone. I could not be the Mom that I am or have the career that I have without support! Even Batman has Robin!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
As told to me by my very wise late grandmother Nana Anna when I was dating, “Money and Looks come and go, but Character is forever.”
What are the 4 things you can't live without?
My sense of humor
A fabulous pair of High Heel Jungle Socks, they transform an outfit and make me happy!