Five years ago Jennifer Steele started Girls I Know, a journalistic project that tells the stories of standout women who influence her life. Girls I Know has since taken the form of a zine, a series of Polaroids, a website, social platform, and even more so, a living, breathing positive conversation between women. “I met so many brave women in my first years in New York and was captivated by their strength, ambitions, and struggles as women too, both on personal and societal levels,” says Jen of her experience creating the Girls I Know community. “I think it’s important and valuable to share these stories with people. It’s simple honesty and a sharing of life that are the backbone of the operation.”

To celebrate our Keds Made in the USA collaboration of shoes handmade by female artisans right here in the United States, we turned to Jen to gather a few inspiring women she knows and share what’s on their minds. “History shows that when women are supported and given room to contribute and grow, profound things happen,” adds Jen. Read on for the insightful musings of some of the ladies we’re honored to get to know with Jen.

Raye Levine, Actor/Producer/Figure Skater

keds made in the usa
CURRENT/ELLIOTT The Tennant Cutout Dress / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

“It’s an exciting time to be a woman. There’s definitely a collective shift in recognizing the value of the female perspective on a set. It is now an asset to talk about a film project that has women in leading roles, behind, and in front of the camera. A female Bond lead? Yes. A female president of the U-S-of-A? Yes. There’s still so much work to do, but we are going in the right direction.”

Khadija Griffith, Dancer/Activist

keds made in the usa
ACE & JIG Belted Jumpsuit / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

“Many of my pants aren’t my fitted size. If I see a pair I’m in love with, the number on the tag doesn’t matter—instead, how it falls on me and how I feel in them is what I care about. I have a pair of black drop-crotch pants that I indirectly purchased in Seoul, South Korea. Initially, the store didn’t allow me to purchase the pants. Because I’m female? So a friend purchased them for me. I don’t care—I wear them happily, always resewing the crotch because I keep dancing in them and ripping them!”

Vicki Ho and Kathleen Tso, co-founders and editors of Banana Mag

keds made in the usa
RE/DONE 1950s Boxy Tee / RE/DONE Distressed Cutoff Shorts / ACE & JIG Sahara Maxi Dress / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

Banana Mag has been a huge learning process for me, in a cultural sense. I’ve never felt more connected to my heritage, and I really learned to appreciate being a first-generation Asian American through starting the magazine [Banana is a lifestyle and culture magazine centered around all things Asian.] I’m essentially learning at the same time as Banana’s readers, and having a physical magazine to collect all these fascinating stories is my way of building a positive platform that never existed when I was growing up.” -Vicki Ho

Jess Hemenway-Green, Owner and founder of Ven Agency

keds made in the usa
BARNEYS NEW YORK Double-Breasted Blazer / RE/DONE 1960s Slim-Fit T-Shirt / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

“Traveling for work gives me the opportunity to connect with other like-minded female entrepreneurs and designers in different countries around the world. And the way you present and carry yourself can exude a professionalism and confidence that transcends language.”

Camille Becerra, Chef

keds made in the usa
FRAME Slub Le Oversized Shirt / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

“When I came into this industry, it was a very different work climate than it is now. I had to stand up for myself, which proved to be really valuable. It’s given me the strength to attain what I want, regardless of what people may think. It’s very natural to be discouraged when you are told that what you want to do is hard or unattainable. The act of standing up for myself forced me to truly understand what I’m capable of.”

Sunny Shokrae, Photographer

keds made in the usa
SIMON MILLER Reverse Terry Calvin Sweatshirt / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

“Living in New York City gives me accessibility to a constantly growing and changing community of new new subjects and collaborators. I love working with the women I meet to make the best images we possibly can together.”

Hayley Coupon, Musician

keds made in the usa
CURRENT/ELLIOTT The Madeline Top / RE/DONE Relaxed Straight Jeans / KEDS MADE IN THE USA Sneakers

“My personal style tends to be simple, quiet, and very consistent—I am a uniform dresser. It’s become a running joke with the friends closest to me, because I tend to collect slightly different iterations of the same style over and over again—but that’s because I know what I like and I know what I feel my best in. Instead of my clothes speaking for me, I like to speak for myself.”

Keds Made in the USA

Shop The Story