Ashleigh Dempster is a mom of three who lives in Los Angeles. When she was pregnant with her second child, she decided to start a business from home designing kids shoes and selling them online.
"When I started AKID five years ago I was raising — and still am — a young family," Dempster said. "The best resource for me was to put the shoes on my kids to see how they fit and get feedback from them."
For the past five years, the success of Ashleigh's startup has relied on the brutal honesty of her three children. From launching her company to testing out products, her entire business started from home and continues to run from a laptop on her kitchen counter.
"My kids are going to tell you if they are not comfortable or they don't like it," Dempster said while running after her toddler daughter who had rushed to the front door — wearing pink leopard print kicks — to greet her two older brothers who had returned home from school.
Dempster's tiny home business has now become one of the most popular shoe trends among the world's most photographed moms. Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Drew Barrymore, Jessica Alba, Jaime King, and Selma Blair are just some of the celebrities whose kids sport AKID kicks.
Without a doubt, AKID is a true homegrown LA success story. But now it's time to give back.
This week, Dempster will donate over 6,000 pairs of shoes to the Good+ Foundation, an organization founded by Comedian Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica Seinfeld.
"The shoes will benefit families that live below the poverty line," said Alan-Michael Graves, a Director at the Good+ Foundation office in Los Angeles. "And at this time of year, support those families getting ready to go back to school."
The retail value of Dempster's donation rounds up to approximately half a million dollars.
"This is a substantial — huge — donation for us here," Graves said. "Shoes are the last thing that people think about when thinking of families in need."
The Good+ Warehouse is filled with donated car seats, strollers, clothes, and school supplies. All of which Graves says are important. But there is an overall lack of shoes for children: an essential item for kids to be able to participate in simple day to day activities like walk, play, and go to school.
"Most people don't think about shoes," Graves said. "They are a high need, and a high priority in the families that we serve."
Dempster believes proper footwear is of the utmost importance for every child.
"There are children going to school with shoes that aren't in good condition, that don't fit them," she said. "And that causes a whole bunch of problems."
The problems she's referring to include health, hygiene, and bullying.
This need was the catalyst behind her donation of thousands of AKID shoes for children — the same age as her own — that will be brand new, well-made, and also happen to be stylish enough for Hollywood's A-listers.
And while the Good+ Foundation helps families across the nation, the AKID donation will go right back into Dempster's community.
"AKID brand started in LA, I live in LA, two out of three of my kids are born in LA, so it was really important for me to know that this donation was supporting families in LA," she said.
The Good+ Foundation serves communities locally from Long Beach to Palmdale to Riverside County. But they have a strong focus on the communities in Watts, West and South LA, Compton, and Lancaster.
Drawing from her own experience as a parent, Dempster believes it takes a village to raise children: a village where everyone helps each other rise.
"I know that I'm helping families that have kids just like mine, and are working just as hard as I am to make the best life for my children — our children," she said.
While this is her largest donation to date, Dempster hopes that as her startup business grows, so will her donations to the local community.