Tkees Goes Global, Moves Beyond Core

NEW YORK — Tkees is building momentum.

After a strong start in the U.S., the 4-year-old Canadian company, known for its cosmetics-inspired flip-flops, is expanding into more key doors globally. “We continue to be surprised at how many flip-flops we can sell,” said co-founder and CEO Jesse Burnett.

The brand is also diversifying its product mix. Tkees is launching a closed-toe style called the Senny for fall ’13, as well as a leather ballerina flat for 2014. By broadening the offering, the brand aims to further widen its reach.

“Anytime you look at seasonal footwear, there are high and low points [in terms of the selling season],” said co-founder and creative director Carly Burnett. “A lot of our growth is [geared] toward being a really successful all-season footwear company.”

The brand also is boosting its core business. It will relaunch kids’ styles for resort ’13 to capture a larger share of that market. “The mommy-and-me approach really works. Moms love the [product] because they can dress their little girls,” said Carly Burnett.

The product initiatives are part of the company’s goal to enter more top-tier retail stores. Neiman Marcus is a new account for spring. Tkees also added to its retail roster earlier this year and has expanded with Nordstrom.

“The brand is performing well and sits nicely with all of our flip-flop brands,” said Zappos buyer Myra Taylor. “We love Tkees because they name their styles after different elements of makeup. It keeps the brand exciting and the girl coming back for more.”

Hallie Rosenthal, buyer for Palm Beach, Fla.-based Rapunzels has been working with the label since 2010. “Tkees is one of our best sellers, and their timing was great. They filled the fashion void for nude flip-flops,” said Rosenthal.

Globally, the brand recently debuted at Lane Crawford in Shanghai and Hong Kong as part of an overseas push. (Currently, about half of sales come from the U.S., 15 percent from Canada and the rest from international accounts.)

As it looks to become a more competitive global player, the brand continues to rely on celebrity support from such names as Blake Lively, Jessica Alba and Jennifer Aniston.

“The Hollywood A-listers have been very important to our business because they act as great brand ambassadors,” said Jesse Burnett.

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