Entrepreneur Steve Kaufman has proved that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.
In 2007, Kaufman’s son, Alex, was suffering from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that required the teen to wear a cumbersome torso brace for 22 hours a day. The device prevented him from being able to put on his own shoes, prompting Kaufman, a trained robotics engineer, to find a solution.
To that end, he developed Quikiks, a line of hands-free footwear launched in 2016 that targeted those with a range of dexterity challenges and health issues.
The shoes are built around a patented Step-in-Go system embedded into the shoes. The rear portion of the shoe tilts back on a hinge, allowing the wearer to easily slip in their foot. A little downward pressure on the heel closes the shoe up behind the ankle, and then locks it in place with a magnet. Removing the shoes is just as easy. Simply strike the rear part of the sole on any hard surface and the momentum of the foot pops them open, allowing the foot to be released.
“There are millions of people with different issues,” said Kaufman, citing arthritis, back pain and those with cognitive limitations. While Kaufman said the shoes offer many ways to become more independent, they also enhance one’s safety. Many slip-and-fall accidents, he explained, are caused by shoes that are too big or not supportive enough, common issues for those who can’t manage putting on more traditional fitting footwear.
The men’s and women’s collection comes in a range of sizes and widths. The shoes retail for $249, and are available online. According to Kaufman, while the company makes no medical claims, he sees an opportunity to distribute the line through the medical community as well as comfort shoe stores.
Though the collection has so far attracted an older clientele with its more basic styles, Kaufman sees an untapped market among younger consumers, who may also find themselves challenged when it comes to putting on shoes. For this market segment, he’s developed a lighter unisex athleisure style that will launch on Kickstarter this spring. Until then, pre-orders for the style can be made online.
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