The Tale of Ashleigh Dempster - The Grace Tales

The Tale of Ashleigh Dempster

Photography: Aleks Kocev Words: Georgie Abay

When a self-confessed shoe aficionado marries another shoe buff, it’s really no surprise that a cool footwear collection would follow. Born in Canada and now based in LA, Ashleigh Dempster along with her husband Matt George launched AKID earlier this year. It helps that George happens to have built an entire career out of footwear and is behind streetwear emporiums Nomad, Stüssy in Toronto and Vancouver, multiple collaborations with Adidas and a consulting gig for Kanye West.

“It all happened so naturally when Jasper was at an age where he started wearing shoes,” says the stylish entrepreneur, who looks far too fresh for someone who is in the thick of sleep training her five-month-old son Stone and running after her other toddler son, two-year-old Jasper. “We really saw a gap in the marketplace and with Matt’s experience in the footwear world and my love for shoes, I think it was just a matter of time before we collaborated on a collection together.” They started AKID based on the idea of creating a product that adults would love as much as children. “A lot of companies just take a traditional adult shoe and shrink it down for kids. With AKID, much time was spent making sure the product was built for sensitive skin,” she says. “Children’s feet need to be able to sweat and breathe so you will find a lot of leather-lined or breathable material in our shoes. Kids can easily go barefoot in them. No need for socks when you have a well-designed, well-made shoe.”

AKID isn’t the only addition to the family this year. “Stone is only five months old so we are just getting into a groove over here,” she says on balancing a new business with a new baby. “My husband travels a lot so there is no way that I could work on AKID and manage two young kids at home without an incredible support team. For me, that’s my nanny Clara. She’s an angel!” As for sleep - or lack of - she says: “I wish there was a secret that worked for every child. Following a routine usually helps get them on schedule, but sleep patterns are so different from baby to baby (and they seem to change weekly). I try and stick to a regular routine with Stone, but I’m not going to lie, sometimes I cheat and let him fall asleep on me because I’m too exhausted to follow through.”



Looking at the way Dempster effortlessly throws together stylish outfits, it’s no wonder she was named one of Toronto’s best dressed by the National Post. Known for buying multiples of things she likes, she says, “you’ll find a stack of great tees, leather pants and jeans in my closest that I mix in with a great pair of shoes and a jacket. I have always dressed this way but since I moved to LA my style has naturally become a bit more casual.” And what about her vast shoe collection? “I owned a lot more shoes until a week ago! I like to keep everything over the years and my husband is a minimalist, so he’s been on my case to clean out my closet, which I just did. I’m usually rocking heels, but recently broke my foot so my flat shoe collection has been expanding over the past few months and will continue to grow until I am able to wear a stiletto again.”

Ashleigh's little list of loves:
Vitamix. My kitchen essential. Everything from baby food to my daily smoothies are whipped up in this machine.
Sunday mornings with my family. We always have a brunch then hit the park. It’s the small things in life!
Skype dates with my family and friends.
Coconut oil. I use it for everything—skin, makeup remover, toothpaste, cooking…
NY Times (hard copy). Although I haven’t been as consistent about reading the paper since Stone was born, I love sneaking away for an hour to myself to get caught up.
Hikes in Runyon Canyon, Pilates and Training by Andre Hudson — I thrive on exercise and need it regularly to stay focused and feel good.
Dinner parties – the easiest way for us to catch up with friends is to throw regular dinner parties. We have them almost weekly with anywhere from 15-30 friends. Traditionally, my husband and I would do all the cooking but lately we just haven’t had the time so I do get a little help from Jeff from Haute Chefs LA… he makes a mean Moroccan chicken!
The Beautified app - this is the beauty app that solves all of your last minute beauty needs. I use it when I travel. It’s brilliant!
Waiola Coconut Water - I’m obsessed with everything coconut. My favourite coconut water is Waiola - they actually have an app for home delivery.
Brainstorming sessions with my husband on AKID. He is juggling a lot of different projects right now so in order to get him for more than a few minutes here and there, we schedule a full day brainstorming session every six weeks offsite…away from everything.


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