Emily Kenison models her Straplets
Emily Kenison’s unsuccessful search for “the perfect pumps” has brought forth Straplets, a new shoe accessory she created “to keep heels firmly, comfortably and fashionably in place.”
Launching Dec. 11, the detachable and interchangeable vegan leather shoe straps are designed to easily slip over shoes with heels up to two-inches thick--both instantly and at $22-$32, affordably in converting the standard women’s shoe into trendier-styled footwear.
Available in small, medium and large sizes, the four initial Straplets offerings are the T-Straplet, featuring brass and golden studs, and designed for both dress and casual wear; the more feminine, elevated heel Mary-Jane; the practical yet discreet Clear Mary-Jane; and the elegant Criss-Cross.
“Old shoe, new look,” says Straplets CEO/founder Kenison, a 2014 New York University law school grad who came up with the concept right after graduation.
“I was about to begin a new job at a law firm and decided to splurge on a new pair of pumps that I’d been eyeing for quite some time,” says Kenison. “They were a bit pricey, but I couldn’t resist, plus, I felt like I’d earned them. But during the first week on the job, while trying to make a good impression, the shoes kept slipping and flip-flopping—and then I slipped out of one shoe entirely and stumbled in front of my co-workers! I blushed at least 10 shades of red!”
So Kenison sat quietly at her desk—sans shoes—wishing she’d bought heels having a mary-jane or criss-cross strap (“really, any heel with a strap!”) instead of her admittedly overpriced new pumps.
“Then 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 she thought about it, the more excited she got.
“Most heels are just that pump shape, with different uppers,” explains Kenison. “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 is a lot cheaper than buying a new pair of shoes--as I know too well! That and fewer shoes taking up my valuable New York City closet space. Double, triple, quadruple ‘A-ha!’”
After consulting with her co-workers, Kenison quickly found that most of the women (“not just me and Cinderella”) had problems with shoes slipping. She recounts: “Michelle’s feet were narrow, Lydia had one foot half a size smaller than the other, Rita had lost weight and her feet got smaller, Julia 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.”
At law school Kenison had been very interested in fashion law, and had learned that it was extremely 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 [Intellectual Property] Clinic patent competition. The awesome BLIP team perfected my patent application and my patents were underway--and eventually officially granted!”
Kenison spent the next three years “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,” she recalls. “But no one would want to buy them--not even my mom! So I knocked on doors in New York’s garment district, trying to find someone who could make the 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.”
Kenison was running out of options.
“I had always been a bit of a nerdy girl--always loved my teachers--and thought maybe a teacher would be able to point me in the right direction,” she continues. “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.”
She spent the next six months running back-and-forth from her office to the Garment District, iterating different shapes and stitching until striking the perfect balance of form and function.
“Finally, my first set of samples was ready for market-testing--on my friends! I’m thankful to them all for being my guinea pigs and completing my endless surveys--and always being brutally honest!”
And then it was off to Turkey—her mother’s homeland.
“I’d found a factory there that produced shoes for all the highest of the high-end luxury designers and learned everything I could about materials--and vegan leather—along with embellishments, quality control and manufacturing--from the very best professionals in the business. And now the first collection of Straplets--a set of classic styles--is ready for its debut!”
The portable Straplets come with a travel pouch, enabling easy transport in a handbag “from desk to date,” notes Kenison, adding that travelers now need only pack one or two pair of shoes, as Straplets can provide additional options by changing their look. They’re available through Straplets’ direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform at its website, under the banner of “Slip nixer & fashion fixer, your shoe collection’s new best friend.”
“We love all animals, so our product is made from the very best vegan leather,” concludes Kenison, adding that a portion of all proceeds will be donated to WildAID in support of wild life and conservation efforts.