Keeyahri designer and founder Keya Martin always names her shoes after influential women, drawing from stylists, influencers and other prominent names to create her fantastical heels. First, there was the Jenine, named after Jenine Howard (wife of former NBA player and current University of Michigan men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard): a four-inch signature pump featuring a custom heel plated in gold resin and a hand-applied feather-accented option straight out of a fairtyale.
Last summer there was the Tamu, a sleek and chic strappy sandal in gold that laces up around the ankle and calf, named after fashion editor Tamu McPherson. Then earlier this year, Martin debuted the Zerina, a black leather thigh-high boot named after celebrity stylist and Black Owned Everything founder Zerina Akers, with whom Martin collaborated on the style as an exclusive to the stylist’s new shopping platform.
For her latest creation, Martin turned to pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts for some divine inspiration. The new Sarah mule comes in bold colors to represent the ministry leader’s enthusiasm.
“Building a brand comes with peaks and valleys, and on the days where there maybe challenges, I try to do things that will aid in uplifting my spirit. One of those things is to listen to Sarah Jakes Roberts sermons for reassurance and guidance,” Martin told FN. “I feel like I can conquer every task at hand after listening to Sarah, and the Sarah mule shoes represent strength through the architectural heel, enthusiasm through the color ways and tenacity through the Italian Leather and craftsmanship.”
The through line — and showstopper — in Martin’s designs is the heel, a sculptural feat inspired by Hiroshi Nakamura and NAP Architects’ Ribbon Chapel in Japan, built in 2013. Following similar spiral ribbon-like lines that circle down the conical shape, the heel took Martin months to perfect with her factory in Italy. The Sarah mule features the ribbon heel in ABS material, which is galvanized in nickel nylon coating, a process that takes four to five weeks to fabricate.