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Monterey Bay Inspires International Designer

Brazilian-made Klub Nico Shoes start with Kelley Lehner and her La Selva Beach studio.

Walking into the local Starbuck’s, Kelley Lehner exudes a sense of elegance in such a laid back fashion. She is the president of Klub Nico, a local shoe company based in La Selva Beach. But Lehner is unlike what you’d expect from a woman working in the glamorous fashion industry. She gives off an attitude that is calm, cool and collected.

Expecting a high power fashionista, Lehner doesn’t show up to have her morning coffee in five-inch stilettos and the latest threads. She instead blends in with the rest of the mere mortals in a pair of jeans, a white Anthropologie top with some detailing, a black leather jacket and of course, a pair of Klub Nico boots. She confesses that while the taupe leather “Zandria” boots on her feet are 4 years old, she still loves them because of their classic design and comfort.

Lehner didn’t always have her eyes set on the fashion industry. She was initially a pre-med student at Pepperdine University but later graduated with a degree in advertising. When asked about how and why she started Klub Nico, Lehner says she, “kind of fell into it.”

“My marketing and market research background helped a lot,” Lehner said.

Lehner felt that with her many years of living and working in Brazil in addition with her ability to speak fluent Portuguese, she had an upper advantage. Instead of having to work with a translator, she is able to speak directly to agents.

And with those tools strapped in her kit, Lehner moved back to the States from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after having lived there with her husband, Bruno, for years.

Once they moved to La Selva Beach, Lehner decided to start Klub Nico since she’d always “wanted to do her own thing.” After doing a lot of research in Brazil, she started her shoe company and named it after her son, Nico.

Since the company’s started in 2003, Lehner’s daughter, Valentina, has joined the clan. While Klub Nico makes up a large part of Lehner’s life, the company doesn’t make up her entire identity.

“The hardest thing is to find that balance between my professional and personal life,” Lehner confessed. “I try to find that middle ground.”

Many working parents can relate.

On her down time, Lehner enjoys being active. Fun family activities usually include going to the beach, bike riding and horseback riding.

Lehner explained that she’d hurt her hand while horseback riding back in September but would like to get back into it.

And when asked about living by the ocean, Lehner explains that it’s a large part of her inspiration for Klub Nico as well as a big part of her life.

“I’ve always lived by the ocean—in Carmel, Malibu and Rio.”

It looks like La Selva Beach with continue to be an inspiration for Lehner through her company and her life.

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