We all want to be Carrie Bradshaw, seamlessly running in heels down the streets of Manhattan. But let’s face it: Most of us can’t and don’t want to sprint in stilettos. While high heels are seen as the feminine footwear of choice, did you know it was men who first wore heels? From ancient Egypt to 15th century Persia and throughout the ages in Europe, it was male equestrians, aristocrats and even male royalty who donned some pretty snazzy pumps.
Fashion is a fickle mistress. So, today, shun the cool new trend, and slip on a pair of comfy shoes that make you feel totally like you, whether it’s platform slingbacks or camo Crocs. After all, when you’re comfortable and confident, the world is at your feet!
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: Four Times
Heels have often been a requirement of women in a professional setting. Heck, even last year, a certain film festival faced controversy when its fashion police turned women away who were wearing—gasp!—flats.
But the fact of the matter is an eight-hour day in platform Mary Janes takes its toll on a gal. In fact, The College of Podiatry reports that each year, 44 million working days are lost because of back pain and women experiencing about four times as many foot problems as men. A major contributing factor? You guessed it: high heels. Ladies, I’d say that’s a great reason to put our feet up today!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Kegan Schouwenburg, CEO and Co-founder of SOLS
Many of us, young and old, have experienced foot pain, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve said, “They hurt, but they’re so cute,” as I cringe in agony. Today’s Woman to Watch is hoping to give us all a little relief by employing the innovative technology of 3-D printing.
Her name is Kegan Schouwenburg, and her business, SOLS, is forever altering the world of footwear. Kegan, who previously worked for a 3-D printing company, grew up wearing orthotics, an experience that left her unfulfilled and longing for cute shoes she couldn’t wear. Then she had a light-bulb moment. Instead of following the typical model of creating a design using a computer and then waiting for a manufacturer to make it, which could lead to serious flaws, Kegan combined the power of 3-D printing with her desire for the perfect orthotics.
Here’s how SOLS works: It starts with an iPad and an app. The app takes a few photos of the customer’s foot, extrapolates some measurements, and—bada bing bada boom—a pair of ExoSOLS, the company’s custom orthotics, is 3-D printed. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, making it totally revolutionary. The orthotics are made in the United States, and the foam used in ExoSOLS is environmentally friendly and recyclable, and doesn’t contain harmful substances like PVCs. Traditionally, custom orthotics can cost as much as $500, whereas a pair of ExoSOLS run only about 100 bucks, and customers get 30 days to test them out.
Kegan calls herself opportunistic, which might explain why SOLS shipped 12,000 custom orthotics in 2015; that and never losing the passion for what she’s doing. Kegan says she was asked in many early fundraising meetings whether she’d get bored with SOLS. Her response: No way! How could she? After all, she’s changing people’s lives, one comfortable shoe at a time.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Foot pain is no joke, and it can negatively affect how we approach each day. Thanks to Kegan Schouwenburg, women now have the ability to look and feel great in their favorite pair of shoes, then go out and conquer the world. As Oprah Winfrey said:
“Successful women still have their feet on the ground; they just have better shoes.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us!
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