What’s in this post: adventures at Animal Kingdom including why it’s sometimes necessary to run into the rain (literally and figuratively) and the brightest, most comfortable sneakers ever!
The Look: Low Sinchi Colorful Sneaker from ISKAY Shoes ($60.00) // Natassia Cupro Dress from francesca’s ($38.00) and here’s a similar one ($44.00) in case they don’t have your size // Violet Ray Kendall Backpack ($49.95) // Wing Ding Pew and Zigger Small Beaded Bracelets from the Kutula Kiss Desert Rose Collection (COMING SOON!)
Animal Kingdom might just be my favorite Disney park. There’s just something about the atmosphere that brings out the inner adventurer inside all of us. For example, every time I see the Festival of the Lion King show, I question my career path because my heart is definitively sure I’m meant to be the flying blue bird. Maybe one day when I’m famous they’ll invite me to be her for a show… a girl can dream, right?!
When we were there a few weeks ago, we of course saw the Lion King show followed by a trip on the Kilimanjaro Safari and an exhilarating ride down Expedition Everest. My ISKAY Shoes were the perfect footwear to accompany me on the day’s adventures. Animal Kingdom is Disney’s largest park so there is A LOT of walking. I had worn these bright sneakers around the hotel a bit beforehand but was nervous that I didn’t break them in enough. To my surprise, they were SO comfortable – even when they were soaking wet. Let me share that story with you…
That afternoon, my family and I had just finished our Mickey Mouse sundaes… which were just a scoop of vanilla ice cream with two chocolate disks placed as ears with some sprinkles pinched on the top (but you know, when you add the words “Mickey” into anything, apparently you can change more and add a gazillion unnecessay calories and still convince people to buy it).
My grandparents headed back to the hotel at their usual late afternoon time, but my mom, my sisters and I hung around. The sky turned black as the sun gradually faded and we knew it was going to pour. My family is the type who normally plays it fairly safe (better to give everyone less things to complain about, right?), but I was pretty proud they were willing to be a little risky that day. All day long, we had been eyeballing the wait times for the new rides in Pandora, Animal Kingdom’s new land inspired by Avatar. So, we decided to make a run for it. As we thought, herds of wet families seemed to be leaving the line and, with bravery and soaked shoes (thank goodness for ponchos which kept everything but the bottom of my dress dry), we got in line. We waited a little less than an hour (when we were watching earlier, wait times were clocking in as high as 210 minutes!) and it was totally worth it. The Avatar Flight of Passage ride was fantastic.
The lesson here is that we’re taught to take cover and to stay inside until the storm passes, but sometimes incredible, wonderful experiences can come from running through the rain instead of hiding from it. Now, I’d wage a bet that this probably pays off more often with figurative storms than physical ones, but you get the point. And that day, we got pretty lucky.
Now, let’s get back to the story behind these wonderful ISKAY Shoes!
The owner, Cynthia, was born and raised Peruvian. Her entrepreneurial journey started when she left the corporate world to be a mom full time. Her daughter, Sophia, was completely a miracle because she was told her chances of getting pregnant were close to 0%, even with the consideration of fertility treatments. Aside from being a mom, her other big dream was to own her own business. The thing was, she wasn’t sure what. Between 2015 and 2016, lots of ideas and discussions took place before she found “the one”!
On a trip to Peru to visit her family, these colorful tennis shoes caught Cynthia’s eye and she could not stop thinking about them. I don’t blame her, the vibrant colors and rich patterns are absolutely captivating – no picture can truly do them the justice that seeing them in person does! Now, ISKAY works with Peruvian artists who follow centuries-old INCA traditions to design these shoes and colorful textiles. Cynthia’s husband, Luiz, was raised around shoe manufacturers while growing up in a small town of southern Brazil, making them the perfect pair to bring these authentic shoes to your feet!
My ultimate goal with this blog and the atmosphere around my brand is to bring out the strength in others. When I was deciding which pair to feature (which, believe me, was not an easy decision), I landed on the Sinchi pair. Yes, I chose those ones because I was fond of the jewel toned hues in the pattern. However, I later found out that “Sinchi” means strong and brave in Quechua (the Inca language), which obviously makes these shoes the perfect fit to showcase on The Gem.
Cynthia also shared with me that she loves to party and be around friends and family, but she’s rather shy when she doesn’t know the people. Thankfully, I noticed from wearing these shoes that they’re an excellent conversation starter! All day long people at Disney were saying, “oh my gosh, I LOVE those shoes! Where did you get them?!”
Stay tuned for a post on these eye-catching hand beaded bracelets from Kutula Kiss, and another one on how I’m re-styling this dress for fall!
Photos by Kate Stutz & my sister Lexi