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Diana Kelly sits with the Red Maria flat, the first shoe in the campaign, which is dedicated to Girls Inc.
Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 5 years ago

Designer Diana Kelly gives back with 'Flats for Philanthropy'

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Local designer Diana Kelly’s company motto is, “To whom much is given, much is required.” This Bible verse, from the book of Luke, is something Kelly tries to keep in mind when running her business, which designs shoes, purses and jewelry.

In its first year of operation, Kelly gave more than $15,000 to different charities, and last year, when she wanted to develop a continuous way to give back to the community, the motto immediately came to mind.

“I was sitting around with my mom, trying to come up with a sustainable way to pay it forward with philanthropic work,” she said. “I envisioned this table of flats, which each represented a different charity.”

Today, her idea has come to fruition. Her company, Diana E Kelly Inc., has officially launched its “Flats for Philanthropy” campaign, which will design shoes whose sales will directly benefit hand-picked philanthropic organizations. Each shoe will remain designated to that specific nonprofit while she continues to add shoes to the “Flats for Philanthropy” collection.

The first organization Kelly picked to design a shoe for was the local chapter of Girls Inc.

“I really admire all the work they do in the community,” Kelly said. “I admire all the people who work there, and their mentoring program is such a model. It was the perfect place to start.”

Kelly has dedicated her Red Maria flat to Girls Inc. of Sarasota County, and 10% of its sales will be returned to the organization.

To launch the campaign, Kelly paid a visit to the Shabby Chic class at Girls Inc., where the girls have been designing and selling their own handmade jewelry and other fashion items, to share her story and teach the girls the importance of perseverance.

“I wanted to tell them how much hard work it takes to start a business,” she said. “But, it’s important to never let anyone tell you no. If you start with a dream and a passion, and you work hard, you can do it.”

Kelly’s goal is to continue to design shoes for local charities and to eventually benefit organizations on a national level. She’s currently searching for more nonprofits to benefit, and she’s especially drawn to children’s mentoring programs.

“That’s the best part of this,” she said. “Starting locally, I get to see the benefits directly.”

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