30 Mar Keen Makes Key Product Design & Development Team Hires
Keen has hired Nikolai Christensen as VP of product, Manon Belley as its new design director, and Cesar Geronimo as development director.
“We’ve greatly expanded our team of designers and developers with the single focus of engineering high-quality product. In the past year, we’ve positioned ourselves to amplify and evolve the Keen DNA our fans love and expect,” said Nikolai. “From design to the materials we use, our entire team is focused on delivering footwear that exceeds our current, and future, fan’s expectations.”
Keen’s latest product innovation, UNEEK, exemplifies the company’s design and development direction and brings a disruptive new vision of open-air footwear to the marketplace. Starting with Keen’s signature Original Hybrid Newport sandal in 2003, this fine-tuned, versatile, and functional product piqued curiosity in the footwear industry 12 years ago and the brand’s product engine has been charging ever since. From the Newport to UNEEK and Keen’s American Built collection, a constant at the company is pushing the envelope of what is possible in footwear versatility, performance, and design, while keeping the end-user in mind. Brand fans – existing and new – can only expect to see this dedication and leading-edge design and manufacturing amplified as Keen builds for the future.
“With fresh new design and development talent, we will take versatility and classic Keen fit – that has been core to the brand over the past 12 years – and evolve it to meet the needs of Keen fans,” said Nikolai. “Through teamwork, fearless R&D, and deep consumer knowledge, we will push to unveil ultra-versatile and stylish products that seamlessly transition from city to trail and beyond.”
Overseeing the entire team, Nikolai is pivotal in expanding Keen’s American Built collection and inspiring industry-leading footwear production at Keen. A creative and driven product specialist with in-depth technical understanding of product development and direct-inject manufacturing, Nikolai’s 15 years in the industry and past work experience at one of the world’s top footwear brands, Ecco, make him the perfect seasoned guide to usher Keen into this new era.
Belley, Keen’s new design director, brings 25 years of industry expertise to evolving Keen’s DNA with her fresh, creative, style-meets-function design vision that will be showcased across men’s, women’s, and kid’s footwear categories. Prior to Keen, Manon was the creative director within Merrell’s active lifestyle group for eight years and during this time she built and expanded the collection in both men’s and women’s footwear, helping increase global brand recognition and sales.
As development director of Keen’s products, Geronimo is responsible for footwear product integrity and directing the development team in the art of shoe engineering from a fit, comfort, and quality perspective. An industrial engineer with more than 16 years of international industry experience at Wolverine Worldwide, his strategic and operational planning skills will drive development of Keen’s future product lines.
“Our world-class team, coupled with the manufacturing resources we have within bicycling distance of our headquarters, enables us to push the limits of how technology and style come together at Keen. The direct-inject capabilities of the Portland factory allow us to embed functional advantages into our premium hiking, utility, and casual footwear,” said Nikolai. “We are proud to be manufacturing footwear in Portland and growing a talented team that will lead Keen’s evolution in footwear technology and manufacturing.”