How did you come up with the idea?
I splurged on ‘perfect’ shoes, and embarrassed myself.
The idea for Straplets began just after I graduated from law school. I was about to start my brand new job at a law firm and decided to treat myself to a new pair of pumps that I had been eyeing for some time.
During my first week on the new job, while trying to make a good impression, my shoes kept slipping and flip flopping. The worst part was when I slipped right out of one shoe and stumbled in front of my co-workers. I blushed ten shades of red.
I sat at my desk, with my shoes off, wishing I had bought heels with a mary-jane strap or a criss-cross strap, really any heel with a strap, instead of these overpriced pumps, when it came to me, my “A-Ha!” moment.
Why not just make detachable straps to go over your pumps, to keep your foot in the shoe, plus give it another look. Make a strap for your shoe. So simple.
The more I thought about it, the more excited I got! Most heels are just that pump shape with different uppers. So with a simple strap, you could essentially be creative and easily modify the look or style in any way you chose. And best yet, adding straps to get a new look would be a lot cheaper than buying a new pair of shoes, (as I know too well, shoes are not so cheap!). An additional plus would be fewer shoes taking up my valuable NYC closet space. Double, triple, quadruple “A-Ha!”
Pitching the idea around the office, I quickly learned that most of the women, not just me and Cinderella, had problems with shoes slipping – Michelle because her feet are narrow, Lydia because one foot is half a size smaller than the other, Rita because she lost weight (and from her feet too), Julia because she couldn’t say no to a sample sale shoe, even if it was a smidge too big. I was elated that they all encouraged me to pursue my idea!
Photo of Emily Kenison, Founder & CEO of Straplets, wearing the T-Straplet
Icing on the Cake.
While at law school, I was very interested in fashion law and through my studies I learned that it was very difficult to get a utility patent in fashion, but not impossible.
After failing in my attempt to write my own patent application, and having no money to pay lawyers, I applied for (and won) the Brooklyn Law IP Clinic patent competition. Thanks to BLIP, their awesome team perfected my patent application, my patents were underway and eventually officially granted!
And then what? Hustle.
The next three years were spent learning everything. My dad and I made the first prototypes on our living room floor, cutting up, gluing and stapling shoes we bought during Black Friday. But no one would want to buy these, (not even my mom).
I knocked on doors in NYC’s garment district, trying to find someone who could make these prototypes look a little more real, say with a little more stitching and a little less stapling. But to no avail. So then I snuck into (and sometimes was kicked out of) shoe trade shows, looking for any tips from the dealers. But still no luck.
What to do next? I had always respected my teachers, and thought maybe a teacher would be able to point me in the right direction. Googling, I found a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology who specialized in shoe design and fortunately for me, was happy to assist me with a mock up. After many odd hours and early weekend mornings in their sample room, my crude prototypes were refined and ready for manufacturing
I spent the next six months, running back and forth from my office to the Garment District, iterating different shapes and stitching until everything was a perfect balance of both form and function. Finally, my first set of samples were ready for market testing - on my friends! Thanks to you all for being my guinea pigs and completing my endless surveys and always being brutally honest!
From there, I was off to Turkey, my mother’s homeland. I had found a factory there that produced shoes for all the highest of the high-end, luxury designers. I learned everything I could about materials (and vegan leather!), embellishments, quality control, manufacturing from the very best professionals in the business. And now, I’m happy to say, the first collection of Straplets, a set of classic styles, is ready for its debut.
Photo of the Straplets team at our first photoshoot
We hope you love Straplets!
It has been a very long, very hard and very exciting adventure to get to this point (not to mention all of the other stories that are behind the brand name, the logo, the photoshoots, the website, the warehousing and the many, many people who helped along the way). But it has all come together and we hope you love Straplets!
CEO & Founder of Straplets