Entrepreneur solves sweaty foot problem with hybrid shoe
RUNNEMEDE, N.J. (AP) — Who hasn’t put on a piece of clothing or used an item and thought, “Too bad it wasn’t made this way” or “I could have done it better.”
Of course, for most of us, that’s as far as it goes.
Shane Pisko of Runnemede took it a step further. Pisko’s a web developer, not a clothing or shoe designer — but he’s always been the kind of guy who will try to do his own thing.
Design a pair of boat shoes? Sure, why not?
“I’ve always just tried to take things apart and make things out of any materials I had, usually duct tape, hot glue, cardboard,” Pisko, 29, told the Courier-Post (http://on.cpsj.com/2rps03i).
But redesign a shoe? For real — as in something you could actually wear?
“Yeah, I had never done something like that before,” Pisko admitted.
But even Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin had to start somewhere.
Pisko isn’t making stilettos. But he did just launch his own footwear company, Cape Dory Rigging. And the first shoe - The Dory - is now looking for buyers.
The Dory is combination boat shoe and sandal. Pisko, who got into boating while in high school, found himself wishing there was a way for his feet to breathe while wearing boat shoes.
“Regular boat shoes are leather and they hold in a lot of a heat, so your foot doesn’t get any room to breathe,” Pisko said. “People will sometimes resort to wearing socks to absorb the sweat, but otherwise you’ve got these stinky, sweaty shoes.”
But Pisko said his creation provides an answer to that issue.
“The Dory is breathable. It alleviates the need for the socks and saves you from having stinky, sweaty shoes,” he said. “It doesn’t have the same rubber on the bottom to give you traction on a wet surface, but you can wear it on a boat. It’s safe enough.”
For now, The Dory is selling in one store in Florida and online.
Pisko, who estimates he’s put about $10,000 of his own money into this project, is hoping a major retailer will bite when the Cape Dory Rigging brand presents itself to corporate buyers during the August shoe market.
Of course, just getting to this point has meant a major learning curve for Pisko. He’s had to learn about every aspect of the shoe business in warp speed, from design and sourcing materials to manufacturing and the realities of the footwear retail market.
“This all started in 2011, but I had a lot to learn about the footwear industry and I’m still learning,” said Pisko, who grew up in Haddonfield.
For one thing, Pisko quickly learned his initial idea to have his shoe manufactured in the U.S. wasn’t realistic.
“There are only two or three companies manufacturing footwear in the U.S. and what they do wasn’t going to work for what I wanted to do,” he said. A couple of years of research about materials and sources led Pisko to Portugal, where he found a manufacturer who had the materials Pisko determined he needed for his creation - a certain type of cork, a particular quality of leather and a high-durability canvas.
Pisko also had to do some experimenting to see if his idea would actually have appeal and to whom. Surprisingly, Pisko discovered that while The Dory has won kudos from both men and women, women ages 36 and up were the biggest fans of The Dory.
“A lot of people, we heard, love the hippie Birkenstock feel of it and the comfort is a big thing,” Pisko said, relaying information from market research done on The Dory. “There’s an inner lining that has sort of a swimsuit material that is soft but stretches and absorbs moisture.
“People also liked that it was a more casual version of a boat shoe.”
Now, Pisko said, the challenge will be to get The Dory noticed by the right people.
“It’s a very new product and we’re a new company, so we have to work on getting the right people to notice our product,” he said. “We know it looks different. If it’s not presented in the right way it can be jarring, at first.
“But once people set foot in them, feel the comfort and see how they work, we know we have a good chance.”
Information from: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), http://www.courierpostonline.com/