Businesswoman and Supermodel Kathy Ireland

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by Faye Rapoport

Kathy Ireland began her career as a supermodel and morphed into what the Associated Press and London Times call “a best friend to working mothers.” Women all over America are embracing her clothing designs and other products.

Ireland is now a wife, mother, Sunday school teacher and Chief Designer and CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide (KIWW). She leads the brand which just two years ago was acknowledged by Women’s Wear Daily as America’s 7th most popular in its category, and now has moved up to the coveted #5 position with women 18-49.
“Our mission statement at Kathy Ireland Worldwide is to find solutions for families, especially busy moms, because that’s what I am,” Ireland explains.

As a health and wellness advocate, Ireland is dedicated to sharing health information with women and children worldwide. She is a certified fitness instructor and is the producer of five internationally best-selling fitness videos. Her latest venture is a Pilates Sock and Glove offering, which addresses a need she found among Pilates practitioners for socks and gloves to wear during workouts.

Ireland’s many business and philanthropic achievements are far too numerous to completely list here, but she has been honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners and received the Entertainment Businesswoman of the Year Award. She is the only designer in history to have an LPGA-sponsored tournament named in her honor, The Kathy Ireland Championship Honoring Harvey Penick. KIWW’s relationship with the LPGA supports women’s athletics and education.

Kathy Ireland lives in Southern California with her husband Greg, an emergency room physician, and their three children, Erik, Lily and Chloe. She recently spoke to about her new Pilates venture and foot health. First, tell us about your Pilates venture.

Ireland: The launch of our Pilates Sock and Glove offering with our incredible partners at Moretz Sports is very exciting because it coincides with the 10th Anniversary of the Kathy Ireland Brand, which began in 1993 with a pair of socks. In November of this year, we sold our 100 millionth pair of socks. Our single mission is “finding solutions for families, especially busy moms.” Today, we remain committed to that promise. Our new Pilates product was born out of that responsibility to provide new solutions to the clients we serve.
After completing in-depth consumer research in Pilates classes, we found there was a health need that was not being addressed. Class participants were concerned about safety and hygiene, since they performed exercises using bare feet and hands. They also shared that they experienced slippage because of perspiration and asked if we could find a solution. Our Pilates Sock and Glove minimizes the risk of slippage while also protecting the hands and feet from exposure to potential bacteria and other germs, which are commonly spread through the use of public facilities. What appeals to you about Pilates as a workout regimen?

Ireland: Although I am just beginning to learn the Pilates method, you can experience instantly how easy, safe and effective it is as a workout regimen. Because most moves are done in a lying position, you take unnecessary pressure and strain off of your feet and knees. It is recommended for most people, from professional athletes to senior citizens. It may also be an excellent resource for pre- and post-natal women. This is great news for the Moms our brand serves. Before starting any new exercise program, including Pilates, I recommend people speak with their doctor first. So Pilates is done in bare feet?

Ireland: Yes, it is often done in bare feet. But, with its growing popularity in public workout facilities, gym, and YWCAs, many participants are often wearing a lightweight treaded sock for hygienic reasons. How important is foot health in the practice of Pilates?

Ireland: Foot health is very important in the practice of Pilates even though most of the moves are completed in a lying position. However, before we get to class, our feet take the brunt of almost everything we do. It’s important to stretch and exercise your feet by walking, running, doing aerobics and other forms of activities. You have been involved in the fashion world for many years. Do you have any recommendations in terms of socks or footwear to keep busy women’s feet comfortable and healthy?

Ireland: Good socks are very important to keeping busy women’s feet healthy and comfortable. Our ten-year partnership with Moretz Sports has taught me that some of the important qualities to look for in a sock are good arch support, shock absorption and a contoured fit. The types of fibers that offer these design features are Lycra, Spandex, Duraspun and Coolmax Polyester. Consumers should look for these contents when shopping for a comfortable, high-quality sock. Thank you for your time, Kathy!

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