What I learned about kids sandals from slacklining

See the guy on the far right? Yeah, he didn't make it...

See the guy on the far right? Yeah, he didn’t make it…

When minimal footwear first became a “thing”, many people were upset by the fact that minimal shoes cost more than standard shoes. They assumed that since there was actually less shoe, the cost should be less as well. However, we can tell you from experience that the cost is not so much in the materials as it is in the labor of putting the shoes together. We have found that the thinner the sole, the more difficult and complex the shoe is to build. Also, shoe factories were set up to make shoes a certain way and when minimal footwear companies threw in something totally different, it changes the whole process and costs more money to produce. Although we make all our own sandals in house, the same holds true for us. Making minimal shoes is difficult! We tell people that it is much like walking on a tight rope, (or slackline). If you shift only a little bit one way or the other then a mistake is made. it is easy to overcompensate. Shoes with thicker soles have a lower margin for error and also less waste.

Unfortunately, this principle holds true for kids sandals. The smaller the sandal, the more difficult and costly it is for us to make them. Despite this, we have continued to offer kids sandals at a lower price. We are parents. We get it. It is hard to find good minimal shoes/sandals for our children and you don’t want to pay $100 for something that they’ll grow out of, wear down, or loose in a few months to a year. We want parents to have the opportunity to get sandals for their kids but at the same time, we would cringe every time we saw a kids order. They took a lot of time out of our normal process, they were very difficult to make, and they cost us about twice as much money as we were selling them for. That just isn’t a sustainable business model!!!

Lastly, we were lacking in standardized systems and organization for the kids models. We always had this idea to improve the designs and process but we were always so busy just trying to get them done and out the door that we never had a chance to do it. This was not only taking away from the quality of the kids shoes but from the overall business. Everything was suffering because of it.

Another lesson I learned on a slackline is that if you loose control, it’s better to jump off and land on your feet so you can try again rather than falling out of control and getting injured. It was a difficult decision, but we decided that it would be better to temporarily put the kids line on hold, take the time we need to revamp the kids designs, standardize the production, and develop better systems for making sandals for children. While working on the new designs we have the following goals:

1. Keep them minimal  to allow for natural movement and development
2. Make them easier for parents and children to get on and off
3. Simplify them and make them faster for us to produce
4. Create a model for kids that doesn’t have a strap between the toes
5. Make them durable enough to hold up to the high amount of activity of children
6. Keep prices reasonable

At the time we don’t have an estimated timeline on the project but we will work on it as quickly as possible.

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About unshoes

Creator and designer of Unshoes minimal footwear.
This entry was posted in design, family, lifestyle, news and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What I learned about kids sandals from slacklining

  1. mary says:

    The easiest sandal to get on and off for my kids is the Nike Sunray Adjust. If you could produce a sandal similar to that style, but with minimalist features you’d probably have a lot of happy parents.

    And speaking from someone who’s attempted to sew baby booties twice…yes, it’s a beast. I don’t envy your endeavor.

  2. Pingback: Exclusive Items only on Etsy | Unshoes

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