BBF (Better than Black Friday) Sale!

Unshoes holiday sale up to 30% offIt’s that time of year where you are either excited for all the black Friday hype or if you’re more like me, you cringe at it. At Unshoes, we’ve offered our sandals on sale every year for the holidays because while we don’t love the whole black Friday hype and pressure selling, we do wan’t to give people a good deal on our products for the holidays and say thank you for your patronage. Our sale is going on now (11-17-16) through Sunday (11.-20-16). Check out our sale here.

Also, if you haven’t already noticed, two of our closed toe models are available and on sale now! Check out the Gallivant, and the Forager here!

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Winter Product Sneak Peek!

Disclaimer: The images and models described in this post are prototypes. Exact details may change for final products.

If you’ve followed us on social media at all you might have noticed that we’ve published a few teasers about making a warmer option for cooler weather. We’ve kept a pretty tight lid on the details (which is really difficult for us!) but we’re ready to announce what we’re doing and give our followers a sneak peek. I had set a deadline to have them ready to release by last Friday but it just wasn’t working out. I was stressed, frustrated, and annoyed that things were not moving as quickly as I wanted to but after an interesting experience with a group of 3rd graders (which I’ll write about later) I was able to chill out and start enjoying the creative process again.

This process began with a pair of shoes I made for myself several years ago. They were made from our old cork material, some reclaimed wool from an old sport coat, and one of our sandal soles. They looked terrible, and broke down pretty quickly. I was able to modify the pattern and make a pair out of some scrap leather that I bought for a project that didn’t work out. The leather was a weird greenish, bluish color that isn’t attractive at all on shoes! However, I was happy to have something comfortable to wear through the winter. We also sold a few pairs of them on Etsy. Eventually we started working on some cute closed toe shoes for women. This project is still in the mix so I won’t give away any details but they will be a good addition to the market when we work out the details. As we worked on them, I realized that they were not going to be ready for fall which is what I had hoped. While brainstorming shoe ideas, with my wife, we noted that the shoes I had made for myself the prior year were somewhat similar to moccasins. My wife then suggested going even closer to moccasins. It makes sense, our original product is a modern take on an ancient sandal. Moccasins have been put to the test and have survived the years in terms of style and function. They are basically a warmer version of what we were already doing!

Rather than starting with a moccasin pattern, we started with the pattern that I had developed and used design elements from moccasins to bring it together. Right now we’re working on four different styles that we plan to release very soon. We have yet to decide on names so bear with me:

1. Casual Moccasin based on my original shoesUnshoes casual Moccasin for men and women

We are working out a few more details with this but the basic design is set. This will be the first that we release and will probably be available in a limited quantity within days (but we can’t promise anything!)

2. Ballet Flat Moccasin

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This model will be available with a variety of accent colors on stitching.

This model is design to be cute, comfortable, and healthy. We used an asymmetrical design to the vamp (top part of a moccasin) to allude to the asymmetrical shape of the Wokova Feather model. Obviously, this isn’t an outdoor winter shoe. It is made for situations where you might want something cute and maybe a little dressy but it’s cool enough that you don’t want sandals. We really liked the look of this one but we realize its design comes with some limitations. This leads us to the next model:

3. Black Suede Moccasin

Suede Unshoes moccasin for casual and active wear

This model will be available with a variety of accent stitching colors. This picture shows the grey stitching.

We used the same pattern but modified the vamp for more coverage and security. This model will feature lacing (or securing system). We have several ideas that are all very similar in concept but have yet to agree on one specific style so we just photographed it without laces altogether. I can tell you that the lacing will be unique and secure. This model is also fairly close and will probably be second on the list to be released. Hopefully, within a week. (again, I can’t promise as we may still run into hiccups.)

4. Boot Design
This design is a little further out so I’m not going to include a photo. However, it’s a pretty rad design. Yes, I still use the word rad! Don’t judge. This isn’t going to be an extreme cold weather or snow boot but it will be warmer and cover more than the moccasins. The model we’re currently working on is not a moccasin but we may end up with a low boot moccasin as well.

We hope to have at least the black sued and brown moccasins out within a week available in limited quantities but again, things happen and we can’t make any promises. Also, we are still deliberating on names although we have some promising ideas. If you have a suggestion let us know in the comments below! As always, these new offers will be made by us right here in our small facility in Cedar City, UT.

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The Last Hurrah

Love it or hate it, fall is just around the corner! I’m seeing memes about pumpkin spice, boots, and hoodies. If you’re like me, you’re getting ready for one last summer hurrah before it gets too cold. I’m headed to Lake Powell this weekend for some sunshine and water and then its time to gear up for colder weather. We thought we help you out on your fall adventures by giving you a small discount on a pair of Unshoes. This sale will run Friday the 9th through Sunday the 11th. Shop our sandals here. If you’re going for one last summery adventure, I hope it is epic!
Get 15% off all sandals at Unshoes September 9 through 11 2016

For those of you who hate to put away your Unshoes but can’t quite take the cold on your feet, stay tuned for some more winter appropriate Unshoes coming soon. :)

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Pah Tempe, Mo Bettah

Back in April, I was running our booth at the Adventure + Gear Expo in Utah and I realized something. When women tried on our sandals, they would gently work the straps until they were on their feet or they would ask for help if they didn’t go on smoothly. Men, on the other hand, would grab the heel strap, stick their foot where they thought it might go, and pull without mercy! This was especially the case with the Pah Tempe. It puts an exorbitant amount of pressure on the straps. We had a few people who would break the sandals just putting them on! Since then, we have changed construction inside the sandals where the straps attach so they are much tougher, but we decided that we needed some kind of quick release buckle to make this process more smooth.

The idea actually came a few years ago. I had this idea of moving the buckle on the Pah Tempe so that it was positioned on the outside of the ankle. With the tension buckles we had, I knew they would stick out at a funny angle so it was rejected. As usual, the pressure and rigors of running a small business took over anything that wasn’t immediately pressing and the idea was put away. After discussing the issue of people struggling to get the sandals on, someone said, “why don’t we try using a quick release buckle?”That simple thought changed everything.PTbetterWe obtained buckle samples from our supplier and decided to give it a go. I made  a test pair for myself. Of course, as I always do, I made both sandals in the pair differently to see how different things would affect the performance. The left sandal never quite felt secure. Part of the reason was the buckle that we were trying. It was really cool in concept but just didn’t do the job. Eventually, I changed to a different buckle but I also decided to try using a different type of loop on the outside edge of the foot where the strap connects to the sole. I like having the sandals somewhat loose in the front as it gives my toes plenty of wiggle room and movement but some people felt like they couldn’t get the sandal secure enough in the front. I carefully performed major surgery on my sandals to change the loop over to a tension based slider. Once I was finished, I took the sandals for a little spin. My big concern was the larger hardware digging into the flesh. Other than the lump under foot that my sandal surgery had created, I was surprised that I couldn’t feel it at all. I promptly took it down a steep hill and found that the sandal without the tension loop slid forward quite a bit more than the one with the loop. I was sold. We’ve since tested it on various sizes and foot types and have had nothing but positive feedback on it.

Unshoes Pah Tempe Sleek version on sale for 25% off

The PT Sleek uses the same design as the Pah Tempe but with a narrower, 5/8″ webbing for a sleeker, more feminine look.

The Pah Tempe is one of our best selling models and is the original minimalist sport sandal that doesn’t have a toe post. The basic mechanics of the sandal remain the same, but it has some very helpful upgrades! All our Pah Tempe sandals will now be made with the side release buckle and tension loop for a better performing model. To kick off the design upgrade, we’re going to put the Pah Tempe (and Sleeks) on sale for the weekend! From now through Sunday you can get them for 25% off!

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The Coyote vs. The Competitor

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As we are based in Southern Utah, we get to see some spectacular scenery. Honestly, I don’t get out NEARLY as much as I’d like to. Between a family, homestead, and running a sandal company, the outdoor recreation sometimes gets put on the back burner. However, I’ve decided that instead of getting something for my birthday, I’d rather do something. This year I told my brother-in-law that I wanted to take some kind of adventure for my birthday and I wanted to invite him. His birthday is just two weeks before mine so he was all in. I was thinking a river rafting trip, but he suggested backpacking in Coyote Gulch near Lake Powell. I dropped the ball on planning/deciding anything so he picked it up and planned a trip to Coyote Gulch.

He lives in a different town in Southern Utah so I drove part way, and then he met me and I rode with him. Part of the trip requires 4 wheel drive and I didn’t think my little Saturn would make the cut. After I met my brother-in-law, I jumped in to the cab of his truck and within minutes I looked down and noticed that one of his friends who was joining us was wearing minimal sandals. I was excited that I wouldn’t be the only one wearing minimal sandals but I noticed they were from a competitor so I thought I’d tease him about it. I asked if they were (insert company name here) and he was surprised that I knew anything about them. I asked if he was going to hike in them or just bring them along as a camp/water shoe. He hesitantly told me that they were the only thing he brought, so yeah, he’d be hiking the whole way in them. Then he suddenly asked if that would be OK! He isn’t an experienced backpacker. I told him it depends on his feet and how conditioned they were. I also told him that sandals were the only footwear I brought as well. Most of the hike is along or through a small creek and is very sandy. Eventually, I told him what I do and that his sandals were one of our biggest competitors. Of course, for the rest of the drive, I teased him about wearing competing sandals.

Coyote Gulch is in the Glen Canyon Recreation area just south of Escalante Grand Staircase. As you travel south the fewer trees you see and the more red sandstone you see. Eventually you’re driving in deep sand and all you can see for miles and miles is rolling sand and sandstone hills with hints of deep crevices and no sign of life other than the occasional dusty vehicle passing the other way. The sun and rocks were scorching hot as we got out of the air conditioned trucks and we began our journey. I had been quite busy leading up to the trip because our Customer Service Rep had been out of town and Production Manager was sick for a week. I didn’t have much time to pack let alone study the route. I trusted that my brother-in-law would have put in quite a bit of research and would know what he was doing. However, I began to worry as we wandered off the trail within 3 feet of starting! I asked where we were going and he mentioned that two other guys with us knew. I asked them and they said they had been there several years ago and they thought we needed to go in this direction. Suddenly, I realized that I was in the middle of the desert where a million things can go wrong, off the trail, with a bunch of guys that I didn’t know (except for two). A few of the men there, I could tell had plenty of experience and I didn’t worry about them but there were others who didn’t seem experienced at all. The guys who “knew” where we were going didn’t seem very sure about it. I figured that we ought to just stick together and if we hiked more than an hour or two before finding a real route then I would suggest going back. I’m always up for a good adventure but I wanted to be safe out there.G0160383

It didn’t take long before we found the gulch. However, we were several miles too far to the south. You can just drop in to the gulch anywhere. This is a deep canyon (yeah, it’s called a gulch for a reason) with huge cliffs. We followed the winding canyon to the northwest and ended up having to do some scrambling on the slick rock and we had to do a little bit of backtracking but I was more at ease because at least now I knew where we were at. It was about 10 am and the sun was blazing down on us. The rock underfoot was hot enough to cook on. If you used your hands to scramble for more than a few seconds they began to burn. Eventually we found the marker that shows the way into the canyon. At this point, you start walking into a deep slope that looks like it you’re just going to walk right off the edge of a cliff. You have to scramble down some fairly steep rocks. Because of being a Boy Scout leader and an Outdoor Guide earlier in life, I tend to stay in the back of the pack and make sure that nobody gets left behind and help anyone who is struggling. I noticed at this point, the guy wearing the competitor’s sandals was really lagging behind. He looked really worried about the descent into the canyon. I figured that he was just afraid of falling. Eventually, he said that his feet hurt too badly. They had been sweating and had gotten slippery. I decided to wear my Uinta sandals because I knew we’d have to do some scrambling. I wanted the most versatile and rugged model available. I had some slipping around in them with a few small hot spots on my already tough soles. When I looked down his feet were halfway out of his sandals. To be fair, had I worn another model, I would have had more problems than I did. His feel had already blistered and were in immense pain. He couldn’t just take them off because the rock was too hot. I offered to let him use my sandals but he said no. Finally, we got to the steepest part only about 150 feet from the canyon floor. Luckily someone had left a rope. This was a relief for our unfortunate sandal wearing friend because he could turn around and use the rope to descend without having so much friction and pressure on his feet. The second he got into the canyon his sandals came off and he laid in the creek! Actually, we all did.

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Down in the canyon is the natural bridge (an arch that water runs through). This is where we came to the canyon at the beginning of our hike so we were able to spot our campsite from above before we got there.

The canyon floor is nothing like the harsh and deadly desert above! The creek is very small but it flows year round so it provides vegetation. There are canyon walls and green trees that provide shade and a cooler environment. It is much more humid (more than I’m used to) and very peaceful. Immediately we were met by a very large arch right in the canyon. There was also a spring with potable water running very close by. Because of that, this is the most popular place to camp. We, wanted to hike further down the canyon and camp at the natural bridge.G0430427

At this point, the hike was easy, mostly flat and in water. Our friend who got the name “tenderfoot” walked barefoot in the water the entire time back to camp. Of course, he was teased a little bit by the others because he “picked the wrong brand”! It was funny, but honestly, going down super steep rock that is blazing hot isn’t really what they were designed to do.

Our camp was located a few miles downstream at the natural bridge. The rest of the day we took time to rest, set up camp, hang out, and explore the area. We didn’t have a set number of miles to hike like many backpacking trips. This would be our base camp and we had the rest of the time to explore.

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Could anyone ask for a better place to camp!? This was amazing!

The rest of the trip included more hiking, playing in the water, boat (stick) races down the creek, jumping into the “Black Lagoon” (named very appropriately for its very deep, and mostly stagnant water), a hike down to the Escalante River and Steven’s Arch, flips into the river, plenty of “guy humor”, a surprise of finding fireflies in the canyon, camp olympic competitions, games, and hanging out in hammocks. It was really chill until we hiked back up and out of the canyon into the dry heat of the desert. This time we took a different route and actually followed cairns but the rough was actually more difficult as there was more sand. When we finally got back to the trucks, we found that one of the guys had left a cooler full of ice and gatorade. I’m not a fan of gatorade, but having something cold to drink was heavenly! Apparently, someone else thought so too because we found a few missing bottles and a ten dollar bill stuffed in the cooler!

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Black Lagoon

The Uinta sandals were perfect for this trip! Some of the other guys couldn’t decide while going to get water if they should wear their shoes or flip flops. Neither were ideal. There was also no small amount of complaining about sand in shoes! #shoepeopleproblems. It was nice to have one pair of sandals that did everything I needed them to. The hot, deep sand was a little uncomfortable at the very end of the hike but otherwise, they were a dream!

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Children’s Sandals Now Available!

childrens-2After a brief hiatus, we have redesigned the children’s sandals and have reintroduced them into our line! We are very excited to offer kids sandals again! They can be ordered on our website

The two main problems we had with making kids sandals in the past is 1. They were very difficult to make and we didn’t want to sell them at prices higher than adult sandals. In the end, we lost a substantial amount of money on each pair. 2. They were difficult to get on and off which means that parents would have to help their kids every single time. This was fine for small children but you don’t want to keep it up. We’re parents, we know how it goes. Personally, this has been my favorite part of the new design. My 3 year old can put her sandals on by herself and I don’t have to worry about it every single time we leave the house!

In order for us to be able to offer kids sandals we had to cut out some of the custom options. This means that all of the sandals come in the 5mm sole and in standard sizing. The good news, is that it is less to worry about. We have included the sole shape templates and size charts to help parents find the right fit.

Another feature is a very slight upward bend in the sole. I’ve noticed with my children that until they get to a certain age, they are more likely to trip on the end of a minimalist sandal unless it is closed toe. This wasn’t a problem when I made them sandals with 100% foam soles. However, the foam soles have very poor traction, which was a problem as we were hiking and walking on dirt paths, and very low durability. They simply wore through them quickly. We met in the middle with a foam footbed and rubber outsole with a very slight bend. The sandals are so thin and flexible that the bend (or toe spring) doesn’t alter the natural movement of their feet  or gait in any way, it simply lifts off the ground with their toes as they walk.childrens-1.jpg

The kids sandals are available in European sizes. When it comes it kids, EU sizes make much more sense then our crazy US system! They start at EU 22 and go up to EU 35. After that, our smaller adult sizes are available for any youth that need a larger size. Visit our website to learn more.

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Ambassadors Wanted

 

chrisJay_SUP

We are seeking ambassadors from various backgrounds, expertise, and talents. Some examples include, paddleboarding, running, kayaking, minimalist lifestyle, travel, hiking, backpacking, yoga, RES practitioners, outdoor junkies, slacklining, etc.

Dear friends,
We are currently accepting applications for ambassadors for the year 2016. Ambassadors are representatives of our product, philosophy, and values. In short, ambassadors are asked to post relevant content on social media, attend any relevant events (such as races, etc), and be a point of contact for people interested in our sandals. In return, you get a free pair of sandals plus 40% off on any additional orders. You also get some other free swag :)

If you love your Unshoes, have some kind of relevant experience, and you share the values that represent Unshoes then I encourage you to head over to our online application and fill it out. We will close applications at the end of the month.

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Exclusive Items only on Etsy

When Unshoes started, it was only going to be a side gig for me. I was unemployed and I honestly didn’t think anyone would buy my sandals but my wife (as usual) was right in urging me to set up a shop on Etsy. Etsy was instrumental in allowing this crazy venture to grow into a business. It really was the perfect platform for us to get started. Eventually, we said goodbye to Etsy and started selling on our own website. At that time, Etsy was limited and we had “outgrown” it.

Years later, Etsy has continued to grow and has solutions for the small seller like we were and more established businesses. After a long hiatus from Etsy, we’ve decided to start using it again. All our regular sandals can be found on our Etsy shop. Additionally, we’ve also decided to use Etsy much like we did the first time. It is going to be a tool to introduce some of our new products. The reason for this is because it is common for items on Etsy to be made to order and the number of orders placed can be easily controlled. We have a few items that we will be introducing to our line in the future but we are not ready for mass production. They will be made, by hand, after they are ordered.

The first item that we will introduce on Etsy is a men’s loafer shoe.Men's moccasin inspired loafer by Unshoes It is a very basic design and is a mix between a primitive moccasin and a classic loafer. They are made with genuine pigskin leather. These are what I have been wearing all winter and I love them. They are extremely minimal but keep my feet dry and warm. I find that regular old socks work just fine unless it is extra cold. Then a good pair of wool socks do the trick. Right now, they are only available in this bluish/greenish color that was listed as “pearl”. After we sell a few then we’ll be able to add a different color. They will mostly likely be black or brown in the future. Again, my original intention was not to sell these but just to have a pair of my own. However, they have worked out so well that I wanted to share. We also feel that Unshoes needs more winter friendly options that give the foot freedom to move!

I am currently experimenting with a very basic women’s shoe as well. They are not ready to publish but keep an eye out for them.

Next on the list is our Children’s Keota sandals. Unshoes minimal sandals for childrenMany of you have been waiting for us to bring back our kids sandals. You can read more about why we decided to stop making kids sandals here. In short, kids sizes were draining our resources and they really were not functioning as well as they needed to. We are happy to say that after we introduced the Keota sandals, we realized that that particular (I’m supposed to ad the words, “patent pending” here) design was perfect for children. They can get them on and off more easily and they are much more simple to make. We are very close to being ready to produce kids sandals on a larger scale but until then we are going to offer them on Etsy as an introduction. As far as business goes, it just doesn’t make sense to fully launch until closer to spring. However, we know there are some of you out there who can use them now. With Etsy, we can make a few pairs, get a little funding, and be ready to launch before spring. Check out kids sandals here!

I can’t post a picture of the next thing but we are working on a kids sandal that is totally different. It will not have a strap between the toes. As of now, it is expensive to produce and still has some design issues that need to be worked out. My daughter is very excited for her pink prototype sandals. Hopefully we’ll get some warmer weather so she can wear them a little bit! These will not be available right away but will probably be up on Etsy by summer.

Lastly, there is a chance that we will offer some kind of simple moccasin style shoe for children. However, by the time we get the design worked out it will probably be much too late for this winter so it is something we would introduce next fall.

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Free Movement Game Download!

One day I was out doing farm chores (yes, I said farm chores. I live on a small homestead and we attempt to raise as much of our own food as possible) and listening to the Nutritious Movement podcast by Katy Bowman. You all follow her right? If not, you need to! Check out the podcast here. The topic of the day was about finding ways to get more movement during the winter months. One of the things that was mentioned was a yoga memory game. I didn’t think much of it but later in the year as I was gathering Christmas presents, the idea came back to me. I like to make as many of my Christmas gifts as possible and I suddenly remembered how much my wife likes games. So I decided to make my own memory game and include yoga, but I would also include some other natural movements in there as well. The idea is that as you get a match then the game pauses, everyone gets up and does that movement. Some of them require you to go away from the game (ie. Go find something to hang on!).squat

There are other variations to the game as well depending on how much you want to move. You can have everyone do the movements every single time a card is turned over if you have time and want to move more. It will likely help you remember where the card is if you have a physical action associated with it. Or you can just do the movement when a match is made. We played this with our nephews on New Years and it was a hoot! Even the small ones joined in and did their own little variations of the movements. In some cases they did it better than the rest of us!

We decided that it would be a fun thing to give away to encourage all of you to get more movement while you’re stuck inside on a snow day or cold evenings with the family. I have set the cards up in an 8.5X11″ page layout that you can download and print. I suggest that you laminate them (or cover in packaging tape) otherwise they’ll get destroyed rather quickly. For international readers, 8.5X11 is our standard page size here in the States. You should still be able to print this on A4 paper since A4 is just slightly larger. There are crop marks included that will guide you while cutting them out. The best way to do it is with a metal ruler and razor knife. Just be careful! Download the game here.

We hope that you enjoy the game! :)

TF

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The Unshoes Vision (for 2016)

Each new year I like to do a quick recap of the past year and introduce some of our plans for the upcoming year.

2015
In some ways, 2015 seems like it was only a few months long and in others it seems like it was the longest year ever! We started off strong by releasing the Uinta model and we had a good spring season as we whittled down on our arch nemesis, the long turnaround time! We were finally getting to a place where we could produce the sandals more quickly. However, it still wasn’t where it needed to be. We were working hard at figuring out some solutions when two adventures slowed things down. Actually, they came crashing to a halt. In a couple of days, our production manager unexpectedly quit and my wife went into labor early*. This was a serious speed bump but after hiring a new manager, we got right back to it. Since then we have worked hard to increase our ability to make sandals more quickly while also increasing the quality. By the end of the summer we had our production turnaround time down to a few days.

Toward the end of the year we released the Keota sandal which was an unexpected model but we anticipate that it will become one of our top models. We also pulled our children’s sandals so that we could re-design them, standardize sizes, and make the process more efficient.

2016
The first major item on the agenda for 2016 is to reintroduce children’s sandals. We are actually very close to this but we need to get through the slower part of winter before we can fully launch. We are discussing opening this up for pre-orders. The kids line is going to start out with the Keota design. This design is better suited to smaller sizes and is easier to get on and off than our other designs. Eventually, we will add a model that doesn’t have a strap between the toes. More on that below!Unshoes minimal sandals for children

Actually, we have already begun working on a new design for kids that does not have a toe strap (or toe post) and it looks like it will be a very promising model. In fact, we will probably make into an adult version as well. I can’t give too many details at this point, but it is like nothing else you’ve seen in a minimal (huarache) sandal. We’ll keep you updated as things progress.

Another thing that we have been doing during the slower season is dabbling a little bit in making closed toe shoes. We are considering the possibility of adding a simple closed toe, minimal shoe for those who can’t quite wear sandals year round. This is very preliminary and we are just experimenting but it looks like a very good possibility. If we do continue to add models, we will likely have to move to a new location as we are already finding ourselves strapped for space.

Lastly, we will continue to improve our systems. Although we have made large strides in our production methods, we still have work to do. We have been studying Toyota and their Lean Manufacturing principles. This year we will ruthlessly work to identify waste and inefficiency, then we will eliminate them. This will have less to do with design changes, and more to do with internal processes of the company. We are committed to keeping production local. Competing with Asian made shoes can be very difficult and there have been times that we have wondered if it is possible. As I see it, the only way we can continue producing our sandals locally is to make the process extremely efficient and eliminate waste.

Thank you all for helping us have a great 2015 and I look forward to serving you in the upcoming year!

Terral

 

*Although she was born a few weeks early and very small, the birth went well and our sweet little Eliza was healthy and happy. She was born on my birthday and was absolutely the best birthday present I could ever receive. Interestingly, she also resembles me more than the other kids :)

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