Keds global president Gillian Meek plans a pilgrimage of sorts, every year to Beaver Creek, Colo., an upscale mountain village known for its world-class skiing and breathtaking views. When Meek was a teenager, the annual trip proved an opportunity for this avid skier to explore some of the U.S.’s most scenic slopes, like Bald Eagle, a ski run with nearly 2,000 vertical feet, and Stone Creek Chutes, a slope affectionately nicknamed by some thrill-seekers as “Oh Dear Lord Steep” for its two-story plunges.
“Years ago, it was a ‘Gillian trip’ going to Beaver Creek,” recalls Meek, who has two young children. “Now I take my kids. I’m passing on the passion of skiing to my children, so we go as a family. And it is truly all about skiing and relaxing. You get to the top of the mountain, you look around, and you realize it’s all in perspective.”
Meek likely needs that sort of big-picture perspective to run Keds, the iconic 104-year-old sneaker business, whose shoes have been worn by everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Katharine Hepburn, and Paul Newman to Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. At least 25% of her role involves traveling the world for Keds, visiting countries such as Vietnam and China, where Keds sneakers are manufactured, to states along the West Coast to keep tabs on trends percolating in today’s so-called sneaker culture. That includes a push by some younger brands toward sustainability, by means of conserving water and recycling materials such as used plastic bottles in the making of their own sneakers.
“It’s interesting and just really relevant: How do you build sustainability into a product?” Meek says. “It’s not just sneakers; some really interesting disruptive brands are coming to the market with a reverence around, ‘We’re making a product that’s better for the environment.’ I think that’s awesome.”
Here in her own words, are the five things Keds’ global president never travels without:
Untangled, by Lisa Damour
“I’ll be honest: I don’t get the chance to read a lot,” Meek concedes. “I rarely have the chance to read at home because home time is precious time, so I’m trying really hard. My resolution this year is to read more, and when I travel, that’s a good chance to catch up. Right now, I’m reading a book called Untangled, which my brother sent to me. He doesn’t have any daughters, but I have one. The book is really called Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. In other words: how not to get freaked out about being the mom of a teenage kid!” Suggested retail price: $13
Apple AirPods Pro
“I’m probably like everybody else in the world,” Meek quips. “From phone calls I have to take, to working out, having AirPods is great for those things, and I’m also not disturbing anybody else. I have the AirPods Pro so I can cancel out everybody else’s noise, which is delightful when there’s extra noise that you’re not interested in hearing.” SRP: $249
S’well water bottle
“I carry a S’well water bottle everywhere I go,” Meek adds. “I have multiple S’well water bottles by my bed, and I try really hard to carry them through the airport, although I get busted every time with airport security for still having water in them when I put them through the scanner. The guard always makes me empty them out!” SRP: $35
Balm Dotcom by Glossier
“Hmm, how do I describe it? It’s a moisturizing lip balm, but it can be used for anything—it’s an all-purpose balm,” explains Meek. “It can also be hand cream. It comes in eight super-fun flavors like Cherry or Birthday, but it’s very practical. I’m working on Birthday right now, which has glitter, so it’s a little extra fun.” SRP: $12
Keds Women’s Champion Originals
“This is totally self-serving, but I almost always travel with our Champion sneaker, because it’s really lightweight, easy to pack, and it goes with everything,” Meek says. “They’re comfortable and very low-profile. They look great with everything from shorts—which is what I happen to be wearing—to a dress. I typically pack the white ones, but they come in a wide range of colors, so depending on whatever trip I’m packing for, I can pack whatever works.” SRP: $45
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