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Bianca Gates and Marisa Sharkey started Birdies because of their love of hosting and entertaining in their homes, realizing they never had the ideal footwear for this situation. “There was this big white space in the entertaining space, of the home living room, bedroom, kitchen, where there was nothing that we could put on our feet to really feel like we’re dressed up around people but also comfortable enough in our home,” Gates says. This idea sparked in her mind after watching Mr. Rogers take off his outdoor loafers and put on his indoor loafers, noting that women need something like that, too.

“We took the best components of a sneaker that you can bounce around to take care of people around your house, the best components of a slipper, that soft and satiny feeling on your feet, and the best components of a classic loafer that women love that would go with everything. And we combined the three things, and voila, we created the first-ever social slipper,” Gates says, noting that trends are leaning toward an era of maximalist comfort. As the brand grew in popularity, so did the demand for a more durable and outdoor-friendly shoe. Gates and Sharkey updated their indoor social shoe with a thicker sole that can handle the streets, cementing the brand as the stylish, cushioned everyday shoe made for the person doing it all. “A great pair of shoes definitely helps you fly through your day with ease. You can get so much done when you have this great pair of shoes that’s doing everything for you,” Sharkey says.

Beyond creating a celeb-loved shoe brand, we had to ask them about their top entertaining and dinner-party tips. “We love making people feel welcome and loved through food, ambience, music, and home decor,” Gates says. The founders are all about outsourcing when needed; in fact, both Gates and Sharkey prefer not to cook themselves. “The food is important, but it doesn’t need to be perfectly hot at the exact second, and you don’t need to be stressing about all the food details . . . I’ve just kind of taken the pressure off the food a little bit through outsourcing and realizing that’s not really what people remember when they leave. It’s all about the conversation and how people spend their time together,” Sharkey says.

Gates recommends setting the table with beautiful platters, adding a few vases of florals, and using candles as table decor with dimmed lighting so the table glows. She also recommends having a great playlist to really set the vibe. “I love my Frank Sinatra playlist. It just feels like regal and fun and jazzy and beautiful,” she says. Gates also points out that the host always leads the vibe of the night, so presenting yourself appropriately is a must. “If I’m wearing beautiful, comfortable flats and a great little outfit, people are like, oh, we’re going to be relaxing. It is going to be a chill vibe tonight and a good one; if I’m clacking around in heels, it feels more stiff and uncomfortable, so what you wear matters.”

Besides giving us an inside look at Birdies and hosting tips, Gates and Sharkey share their current favorite products ahead.