Karlie Kloss's monumentally long legs put her on the modeling map at age 13. Now, at 25 and with hundreds of runways, big-name brand ambassadorships and 36 Vogue covers under her belt, the St. Louis native is the ultimate millennial supermodel, though she's picked up some more titles along the way — namely, entrepreneur, coder, student, baker, philanthropist and vlogger.
Among the many brands drawn to Kloss's varied career has been Cole Haan. She stars opposite fellow multi-hyphenate Christy Turlington Burns in the brand's latest "Extraordinary Women, Extraordinary Stories" campaign, which includes a series of candid video vignettes and intimate editorial photos captured by Cass Bird.
Kloss's "extraordinary story" would be Kode With Klossy, a program born out of her insatiable appetite for learning; her early fascination with math and science paired well with her general curiosity with the tech industry, inspiring her to take a coding class. Upon learning the logic-based language and realizing that there aren’t enough women in STEM fields, the supermodel started a coding summer camp for girls.
Somehow, Kloss found the time to hop on the phone and chat about the growth of Kode With Klossy and being shot alongside a modeling legend.
You've previously discussed how much you admire Christy Turlington Burns. What was it like to work with her on this campaign?
It was surreal. Christy is an extraordinary woman, and I was honored that I was asked to be a part of this campaign alongside her. Also, it was incredible to work with the strong, empowered women who made the campaign happen — Cass Bird shot the campaign and Karla Welch styled it.
In what ways has [Turlington] inspired you to channel your success in modeling to work that more directly impacts the lives of women?
Christy's a trailblazer — the way she has used her career to do meaningful work is extraordinary. She's an incredible friend and mentor to me, and she's a huge reason why I made the decision to get involved; she started the "Every Mother Counts" initiative, which provides mothers around the world with access to maternity care. I've always looked up to Christy throughout my modeling career, and she paved the way for me to continue my education and invest in a future that includes a successful career in modeling and making a positive impact on the lives of others.
Why did you decide to learn to code?
Purely, to understand how it was built and to be able to speak the secret language of these tech entrepreneurs. I was meeting the creators of Snapchat and Instagram, and I simply wanted to wrap my brain around their world. I was also fascinated by the power of coding; if you know how to code, you can build anything — you can take an idea and make it into anything. Coding is a logic-based language, but it has infinite creative application.
Why did you decide to start Kode With Klossy, and how has it grown since?
I am so fascinated with the way tech has transformed so many different industries, and I realized there aren't enough women in STEM fields and that being able to build something for yourself is such a useful skill. The girls in the camp go onto build projects — they are future change-makers and I am so inspired by them. Knowledge is power, and education is the best investment. I want to continue to grow the camps and share this opportunity with more people. It's been really fun to learn how to build and to watch these girls learning something new and watching them overcome the challenge and become really confident and empowered in that accomplishment.
You've filled many roles throughout your career — what's your favorite to date?
I like to balance all of them and keep growing and challenging myself. I like to wear a lot of hats and to juggle a bunch of projects at once. I get bored easily! I feel extremely lucky to be able to do what I love all of the time.
Cole Haan's campaign is about "extraordinary women" and their stories. For you, what makes women extraordinary and how can all women strive to lead extraordinary lives?
All women are extraordinary in their own ways. I grew up in a house of strong women. But I truly believe that every woman has her own story of resilience. The act of growing up gives you strength and shapes into your own remarkable person.
The girls at my camps are 13 to 18, which are pivotal moments; all of their stories are incredible. I'm constantly inspired by all women — even the women whose voices aren't known. When someone's extraordinary, they're doing something different and doing something different is not always easy — it requires fearlessness. But, there's no action or voice too small. Everyone has the opportunity to be extraordinary and to make a difference.