Kathryn Wilson shares how she achieved her goal of getting to the top.

As a little girl, Kathryn Wilson would decorate her Kung Fu shoes with coloured pens and puff paint.

At high school in South Auckland, she was "really only good at art" and her mother, a primary school teacher encouraged her to pursue the talent.

"My dad passed away when I was 7; my mum was all about doing something you loved."

Read more on the Sir Peter Blake Trust here.


At university, Wilson did a Bachelor of Design majoring in fashion. In her second year she went on exchange to Britain where she studied footwear.

After graduation at 21 her goal was to be New Zealand's number one name in shoe design. More than 10 years later the 34-year-old has achieved that dream, and with it she has been named a 2014 Blake Leader.

She has more than 100 wholesalers globally, selling 12,000 pairs of shoes each year.

Her shoes have even adorned the feet of celebrities, including Beyonce, who posted a picture of her black and white Karlya loafers on Instagram.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust said Wilson was New Zealand's most successful shoe designer, with boutique production houses in Italy, Spain, Portugal and China, making her an excellent example to other young entrepreneurial Kiwis to never give up, even if they were told their goal was impossible.

"It was always all too hard but I quite like that. I would never do anything that was easy."

The secret of her success, she says, was starting out small and sticking to basics.

She launched her debut shoe line at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2010.

It was heralded a success and Wilson quit her fulltime job designing clothes to focus on shoes.

Help from NZ Trade and Enterprise and mentoring was also critical to her success and now Wilson shares her passion and knowledge of the fashion industry with others.

She also donates her time and fundraising to charities including Ronald McDonald House, YWCA and Dress for Success.

Wilson said she was humbled by the Blake Leadership award and was excited to meet other winners and the trust's alumni.

Blake leaders

Six talented Kiwis were given Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards last Friday. The Herald is profiling each winner.

Tomorrow: The head of fitness company Equinox, Sarah Robb O'Hagan.