2014 version, A New Generation of Unshoes

The basic concept at the heart of Unshoes designs is the dynamic mix between ancient huarache type designs and contemporary sport sandals. The idea is to take the best of both worlds. We have been happy to offer a huarache inspired minimalist sandal that keeps the straps up off the ground. We used screws to attach the straps to the top of the soles. They worked great at first but we found that they were prone to coming unthreaded or ripping out of the sole. We made the switch to rivets which have held up much better than the screws. However, there was still one big thing that never sat right with us. It was the fact that this design narrowed the area of the sole more than we would have liked. Especially with the Wokova and PT Sleek models. The straps are pretty thick and it makes a “lump” that could be rather uncomfortable if you stepped on it.  Meanwhile, we’ve been testing a myriad of non-slip surfaces to add to the soles to keep them from being so slippery. The bare, smooth rubber tends to get slippery when wet. We got samples of many different materials and tested them.

imageWhile working on these issues, we discovered that we could solve both issues with one solution. Our favorite footbed was EVA foam stamped with a texture. EVA is surprisingly durable and comfortable. It adds a little thickness to the overall sole but still allows good ground feel and flexibility. It also molds to the foot with use like the soles.

From now on, the straps will be sandwiched between the sole and the footbed. They are cemented and riveted in for maximum durability. The idea came from our new Wildflower Series sandals for women.
image

This design maximizes the area that the foot has on the sole because the straps wrap up and around the foot. This is especially nice for the Pah Tempe and PT Sleek models. It also makes the sandals look more professional and dramatically increases the durability of the sandals. The texture grips the foot better but since the material is soft, it doesn’t hurt the foot or create hot spots like some of the non-slip surfaces we tested. The two potential drawbacks (depending on your perspective) is that it adds a little bit of thickness to the sole and it also adds a little weight. Despite the extra material, the sandals are still incredibly light weight.

This image features a tan EVA footbed. This footbed was a sample that was used for prototyping and is not available for purchase. Our standard non-slip footbed will be offered in black to match the sole. Our cork footbed is still available with this design.

This image features a tan EVA footbed. This footbed was a sample that was used for prototyping and is not available for purchase. Our standard non-slip footbed will be offered in black to match the sole. Our cork footbed is still available with this design.

Because of the extra room this creates on the sole, we are in the process of modifying the sizing templates. The templates will be the same but slightly narrower in the heel area since the new system creates so much more room. The image below is a tight tracing of my foot in the template that fits me best.

Unshoes_M13_Left

Please note that this is a tracing of my foot with the pen angled inward. If I were to stand on the template and look down, my foot would visually cover more of the sole area. Especially where the ankles are.

The gray outline is the current sole templates and the red line shows the differences that will be made. The changes to the templates accommodate the new system but if you have already chosen a template, they sandals should still fit without problems. The strap on the outside of the sole on my Wokova bothered my feet before, I changed to the new design and those straps are perfectly comfortable now. The new design is available immediately, however, we are still working on the templates. They will be updated on our website soon.

 

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Stop what you are doing and go for a wal

Stop what you are doing and go for a walk! http://ow.ly/wpR0s

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New Soles!

Our new soles have finally arrived! All orders from this point forward will be shipped with our new soles.

Tread for 6 and 8mm soles

Tread for 6 and 8mm soles

There are a few changes that will come with the new soles. The model that is being affected most is the Wokova Feather sandals. They are now available to purchase with a 4mm, 6mm, or 8mm sole. The 6 and 8mm soles look just like the picture above. A 4mm sole is too thin for such aggressive tread so it looks more like our old 6mm Sport Utility.

4mm tread for the Wokova Feather model

4mm tread for the Wokova Feather model

The other major change is that we are discontinuing the 10mm sole option. We do have a very limited amount of brown 10mm sole material left that we can use for custom requests. Thicker soles can be achieved by ordering an 8mm sole with the cork footbed (just over 3mm thick) for an overall thickness of just over 11mm.

Some of you may be wondering why we have made this change. The answer is simple… Purchasing Vibram rubber through middle man suppliers was expensive and unpredictable. Vibram has bigger fish to fry than Unshoes and they didn’t want to work directly with us. We found a company that competes directly with Vibram and has very similar products. We have been testing their products and have been in communication with them for several months now. To be honest, another reason is that it there are so many other huarache start-ups these days and they mostly use the same soles. There was nothing unique about our Vibram soles that set us apart from others.

The new sole compound we have chosen is very similar to what we had before. The wear seems to be the same but there are some impressive differences. 1. The compound is even lighter. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference but I love the light feeling they offer! 2. While they are still flexible, the soles snap back into their shape better making them less floppy and should reduce the risk of catching the front of the sandal which is a major problem with minimalist sandals. 3. The tread is multi-directional which makes the traction the same from all angles. The zig-zag tread of the old Neflex was cool but the grip was different at different angles. This was especially frustrating on trails.

If we kept the old soles we would have had to increase the price of the sandals. We knew we would be able to find a manufacturer to work directly with and prevent that. We would have liked to find a U.S. manufacturer but we were not able to. The rubber is actually made in Germany. I have been impressed with German products and these soles are no exception.

Order your new pair here!

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Introducing the Wildflower Series!

For some time now we have been slowly working on a line of sandals specifically for women. We want women to have more options for footwear. Especially in more formal occasions. We are very excited to introduce you to the Wildflower Series!

We have developed the first three models of the series and they are available through our Kickstarter campaign. In order to produce a new line of sandals we are going to need to expand our operations. To do that we need funding. Once we get funded then we’ll be able to purchase inventory, expand our operations and offer these sandals on our website. Because we already have a basic operation up and running, we set a slightly smaller goal for our campaign. However, if we are able to raise more then we’ll be able to offer a larger variety of designs to the series and we can get better equipment and materials which will make a nicer final product. If you can’t back the project financially then you can share it with your friends. Any help is appreciated!

Now, you can get a look at what we’ve been working on:

Aspen
Aspen sandals by Unshoes Wildflower Series
The Aspen is so far the model that has received the most attention. It has also presented the most challenge in production. The basic structure of the design is the same as our Wokova and Wokova Feather sandals but the lace introduces an element that changes the entire look and feel of it. We will also offer a turquoise/teal version but we don’t have a picture yet. (The company camera had an unfortunate meeting with the creek on a hike! You will be able to see them on toesalad.com for a review)

Comfrey
Comfrey sandals by Unshoes Wildflower Series

The Comfrey also uses the same basic structure as the Wokova/Feather but has a ruffle running up the main strap. This design is simple but adds a more energetic flare to the look of the sandal. We will offer the basic sandal in a few colors as shown and the ruffle will be removable so a wide variety of looks and colors can be achieved with one pair of sandals.

Laurel
Laurel sandals by Unshoes Wildflower Series

The Laurel sandal is much different than the other three and looks more like a mainstream women’s shoes. We wanted to offer a cute peep-toe option that doesn’t squish the toes like most peep-toe designs. The upper is soft and pliable and is set back just a little bit to allow the toes freedom to move.

As always, your feedback is welcome. We have more design ideas but wanted to start out with these three.

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Unexpected Award!

SBDC Client of the Year Award Presented to Unshoes

Back in 2011 when my wife and I made the decision to take Unshoes from a side gig to a full-time job and legitimate business, I knew I would need help. My background is in art which was nice in helping me design the sandals but not so helpful to run a business! I approached the local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) for help. They gave me some information to help me take the next steps, but most of all, I left with a renewed sense of confidence. Every now and then I go back to them with questions that I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone else. They are great people who are patient with me. I have come to know that they really care about me and want the business to succeed.

Several months ago as I was chatting with the director, he mentioned that they might like to highlight Unshoes as a success story on their website. Of course, I agreed. They drafted an article and asked me for my mug shot and a few quotes about the business. I was happy with the final article but I didn’t know exactly what it would mean for us. About a month ago they sent me an email informing me that I was nominated to receive the “Client of the Year” award. There would be an award ceremony at the State Capitol Building as part of the Rural Legislative Day. I was very honored and surprised by this. We were told that there would be a luncheon and award ceremony but other than that we didn’t really know what to expect.

The morning before the award ceremony I received a phone call from the SBDC Assistant Director asking me if we would be able to make it to the Capitol Building early. She said the Senate wanted to recognize the award winners. While I keep updated on current politics, I’ve never had any reason to attend a Senate meeting or even be in the Capitol Building other than as a visitor to admire the architecture. Again, I didn’t know what to expect. We live about 500 miles from Salt Lake City so we left the night before and stayed the night with family. My sister-in-law kindly agreed to let us stay at her house and watch our kids while we attended our meetings. The drive itself was very intense because of weather. The roads were slippery and visibility was very low. Also, part of the freeway was closed due to a shooting.

The next morning we were running a bit late and were afraid that we would miss the senate meeting. We made it there just in the nick of time. I was still tying my tie while I received instructions from the head of the SBDC. My wife and I both wore our Unshoes of course! There were nine business of over 2,300 that were recognized during this event. They called us in and talked about the importance of small businesses in the economy. They then highlighted each business individually and asked us to step forward. I was a little overwhelmed in this meeting! It was like visiting a foreign country for the first time. I’m sure that I had a “deer in the headlights” look on my face!

After the Senate meeting we ate lunch and had the award ceremony. We were first to be presented with the award since the Senator for our region wanted to participate and he had another meeting he needed to attend shortly after. The person who introduced the awards (I’m not really sure who he was) was rather monotone. He didn’t show much emotion until we were just about to sit down and he noticed that we were wearing our sandals. He asked us to “hold up our feet” so everyone could see them!

Award to Unshoes presented by Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox

From left to right: Utah Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox, Mary Fox, Terral Fox, Utah Senator Evan Vickers, Joni Anderson Cedar City SBDC Assistant Director, Sherm Wilkinson SBDC State Director

It turned out to be a bigger deal than we thought. It was a fantastic experience for us and we were very honored to be recognized in such circumstances. Just like my first visit to the SBDC office, it was a much needed shot of confidence to help us take the challenges that lie ahead.

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Moving Forward in 2014

2013 was a harsh teacher but we learned a lot at Unshoes this year. We’re very excited to move forward with 2014 and apply the things we learned to make our company better. We are in the process of making some more changes to our production process to get our turnaround time down and get sandals delivered faster. Our goal is to take a few steps ahead so that everything is in place when an order is received instead of executing the entire process after an order has been placed. Rather than bore you with production and management details, I’ll just give you a couple of announcements for 2014.

1. Last year we announced that we would release a new women’s line of sandals. We have been working on them, but we realized that we had to work out the kinks in our current production before we can start producing a whole new line of footwear. Now that our current process is being revamped, we are almost ready to go. We’ve continued to work on prototypes and will be launching a Kickstarter campaign by March to raise funds to get this project off the ground. To start off, we’ll offer a few of the more basic designs and then as we receive funds for the project we’ll begin working on new designs. We’ve chosen a name for the new line but it’s not set in stone quite yet so I can’t tell you what it is. When we get it all ready We’ll announce it here and post some pictures of new prototypes.

Once we launch the Kickstarter campaign, we’ll need as much help as we can get to spread the word!

2. We will soon be using new soles for our sandals. The actual rubber material will be very similar so they will function the same. The tread patterns will be different. Also, the Wokova Feather will be available with  4mm and 6mm soles. The 4mm will offer the maximum “barefoot” experience and function and the 6mm will give just a little bit more protection and cushion. When we get ready to launch this change, we’ll update the blog with more info and pictures.

Sneak preview of the new 4mm soles.

Sneak preview of the new 4mm soles.

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The end of the “barefoot fad”?

I’ve noticed some recent articles in mainstream media talking about how barefoot and minimalist running was just a passing fad and is now dead. All these articles have a very “I told you so” attitude and they love to compare minimalist shoes to those rocker soled toning shoes that came and went in a flash. These claims are based on minimalist shoe sales. In fact they are based mostly on the sales of shoe companies like Nike which didn’t make minimalist shoes until they realized they could ride the wave and make money. Their sales of minimalist models have dropped dramatically and they will now move on. They also cite injuries that runners have sustained after switching from traditional running shoes.

Personally, I’m not surprised. There was so much hype about injury reduction that people thought it was a magic bullet. The majority of people that jumped on the “trend” most likely did not do the necessary research to transition. They probably didn’t reduce miles or do any sort of foot strengthening exercises along the way. If they did, it was probably the bare minimum. Another factor is that we tend to live a very sedentary lifestyle 95% of the time and then go out for an intense run to “make up for it”. I have been guilty of that line of thinking. It is a recipe for disaster. I know from experience!

What the media fails to acknowledge is that switching to minimalist footwear is a lifestyle change. Not a running change. It is something that you commit to. It is a slow process. It takes more than a few days, weeks, months, or even years. It is all about slowly re-programming our bodies how to function as they were designed. It includes things like being more active, sitting less, and mindfully re-activating the parts of our bodies that have atrophied over the years. Actually, we’ve noticed that a large number of our customers have mentioned that they don’t run. There are a huge number of people out there using minimalist shoes that are not noticed by the media because they don’t label themselves as runners.

It is easy to gather data about injuries but it is impossible to know how many injuries were avoided. They give us facts about sales and injuries but facts are just bits of data. They don’t always represent the whole truth.

The “barefoot fad” might be at an end but nothing the media can say will change the mechanics of it. The foot is designed to function. The less we interfere with that function, the better off we’ll be. There is one thing that these articles got right. There is nothing special about minimal footwear. That is the whole point! They get out of the way and let your body do its job. That’s what we’re committed to. Making footwear that does only what it needs to and let’s your body do its job.

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Holiday Sale—get up to 35% off

unshoes holiday sale

I’ve always felt weird about black Friday. It seems like the antithesis of Thanksgiving which is the day before. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and it tends to get skipped over simply because there is little commercial gain. That being said, it is nice to have some good sales that don’t rush customers. I like to think of it as a Christmas gift to you!

Many people don’t think of purchasing sandals in the winter but this is a great time of year to stock up. Our turnaround time has decreased dramatically so you don’t have to wait as long. Also, we have recently announced some major improvements to our sandal designs including a new sizing system and strap attachment method.

To help you get ready for the holidays we are offering a sale on all models. The sale will begin on Tuesday, November 26 and run through Friday, November 29. Customers will be able to get up to 35% off regular price.

Because we do everything we can to keep our regular prices low, we don’t offer a large number of sales and discounts. This is a good opportunity to purchase our sandals at a discounted price! Click here to shop now.

*Please note that sale prices vary depending on specific models. Sale price appears at checkout.
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Call the Fashion Police!

It is simple. I don’t like shoes. I know there are a wide variety of minimal shoes and even boots available now days but it’s difficult for me to purchase them. First it’s hard to buy shoes when I can make something that suits me. While I always have big plans to make some sweet kicks for myself, it never happens. I never justify spending that time on something for myself. The other reason I don’t buy shoes is because I simply prefer sandals! As it gets colder and colder, my feet are acclimating but some times I need something warmer.

Luckily, I can wear regular socks with a pair of Pah Tempe sandals. Unfortunately, this is also considered one of the biggest fashion faux pas in existence. If you’re like me and you’re going to break the rules anyway, we came up with some tips to make it look better. It still may not be high fashion but you can get away with it.

How not to wear socks and sandals

How not to wear socks and sandals

1. Wear Pants
If it’s warm enough to wear shorts it’s warm enough to go without socks. I think that this is where the faux pas really started. When you see the old guy on the beach wearing short shorts with socks and sandals it just doesn’t make sense. Most likely, people that do that are trying to hide ugly feet. You don’t want to look like you’re hiding anything, just trying to keep warm. If, for some reason, you are going to wear shorts with your socks & sandals, ankle socks tend to look better.

2. The right combination
When you think socks and sandals, the image that comes to mind is Birkenstocks with long tube socks. It’s a terrible combination. The Pah Tempe sandals are a more technical and functional sandal so combining that with a more technical and well fitting sock will make it look better. Think of the colors  you’re combining. Make sure they go well together. In general, white socks are going to draw more attention. I like to wear black PT sandals with a pair of black fitted athletic socks. Few people even notice when I wear that combination.

3. Other clothes
If everything else you are wearing looks good on you then your socks and sandals are not going to be such a big deal.

4. Own it!
Your attitude can make a difference. If you’re trying to keep your overall appearance nice then it won’t be a big deal unless you choose to make it a big deal. Be confident. After all, a breaking a few fashion rules is a small price to pay to avoid chronic foot problems and deformities right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself! For some people being bold looks really well. I have a friend who is known for wearing some crazy combinations. She isn’t afraid to wear whatever she likes that day. Because it matches her personality, it works well.

If you’re offended by my sense of style, don’t worry. According to the weather report it will snow tonight. Snow and socks don’t mix well so I’ll have to put shoes on. :)

 

 

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How to adjust your Wokova Feather straps

The strapping system on our Wokova Feather model is designed so that you can adjust it to how you like it once. From then on, you can slip them on and off without adjustment. The elastic loop gives just enough stretch that you can get the sandals on and off but allows a secure fit.

Adjusting the straps is easy once you understand how the buckle works. I threw together a little tutorial video to demonstrate. See below.

TO TIGHTEN:
Step 1. Take the sandals off.

Step 2. Pull on the lower layer of webbing just after the buckle where it goes through the elastic loop.

Step 3. Pull on the end of the webbing to tighten excess webbing.

If you want to loosen the straps then do the opposite of the above straps.

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