The hugely successful sandal brand TKEES is best known for its leather flip flops that virtually disappear on the wearer. There’s a simplicity to the design that is very much in sync with how founder Carly Burnett chooses to live her life. For this 39-year-old Torontonian, who co-founded TKEES with her husband Jesse Burnett in 2009, it’s the simple things in life—family and health—that are the priority.
Once or twice a year, they escape as a family to St. Barths, where she was inspired with the concept for TKEES. “It’s our happy place, where we really feel like we can let go. There’s something about that island that makes you feel whole again the second you touch down. It’s magical.” And with a peek at the energetic Carly’s social media, it doesn’t take long to grasp that she’s someone who goes full-out when it comes to her workouts (the chiseled abs and defined calves are your first clues).
Here Carly shares how she focuses on her wellness on top chasing after her two kids and running TKEES with her husband (“Most people don’t understand how we work together but my answer to them is, ‘That’s all we know, it just works!’”).
Can you tell me about your go-to workouts?
My go-to workouts are primarily high intensity. I love the combination of strength and cardio with very little breaks. I love to push my limits and break boundaries with every workout. If I set a personal record for myself, my next workout needs to beat it. I’m crazy that way. My motto is when you hit a wall, you have to break through it. It’s amazing what your body is capable of.
Have you always been into fitness?
Oh, ya! When I was just a toddler, my parents told me that they were shocked when they saw me walking around a grocery store with two very large milk jugs, so they put me into gymnastics where I ended competing at a provincial level until I was 12. I trained five days a week and was pulled out of school early a couple days a week to get my training in. From there, I went into tennis and kickboxing. Being active is part of who I am and something I can’t live without.
With two young kids, how do you find time to work out?
My husband, Jesse, and I are early risers. We wake up just after 5. I head out to a 6 a.m. class at Track (which happens to be just across the street from me) or I jump in the car and drive a few blocks away to a new place called The Werkout. I’m lucky to be so close to the two best gyms in the city. The classes are only an hour, so I’m back at the house just after 7 a.m., and then Jesse heads to the gym for his workout. We’re a team. Always have been, so we both make it work, because it’s really important to us. It clears our heads before we start the day. On the weekends, my seven-year-old daughter loves coming to the gym with me. She helps at the front desk and gets a few pull ups and push ups in herself. She’s a mini me, just better.
When it comes to self-care, other than making sure you get your workouts done, what else is part of your routine?
Yikes, that’s a good question. I’m a foot snob. I love foot massages. I’m very connected to my feet. I’m really lucky my husband is so generous with giving them.
What are three fitness or beauty essentials you can’t live without?
A good pair of Nike kicks, lip balm, Airpods.
Are you a big cook? Do you follow a certain diet?
My husband is the cook. I wish I was as gifted as he is. I can eat a delicious meal at a great restaurant and he can recreate it and make it even better. He’s a natural.
I do follow a diet, but I’m not too hardcore about it. I like balance. I work out enough to enjoy what I want. I try and avoid carbs and sugar, but I do have a few cheat meals during the week and I don’t feel guilty about it. I just enjoy it! I have also never eaten red meat. My body just rejects it, so my cholesterol is A-OK.
TKEES is very much about #goingplaces and living life well. How does that translate into your own lifestyle and the way you run the company?
I’m all about the simple things. Less is more to me. I don’t like to complicate things. I also like to keep an open mind to new things that take me out of my comfort zone. To me, this is the best way to live life. Keep it simple and be open to change. This way you never know what will come your way, which excites me! This is also how we run our company. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, so we have to be incredibly open-minded, try new things and be willing to fail trying. That’s how you get the best results. Working out and eating healthy permeates through our whole office, though we like to treat ourselves once in a while…a little something every day. Group workouts are part of our office culture. Makes us an even stronger team (pardon the pun).