Most people have heard of Kickstarter, the online, crowd- funding platform, where people like us raise capital for new projects. I’ve been working on a Kickstarter campaign with the help of some very talented people and aim to launch it at the end of this month. There’s still a lot of work to do, so we’ll keep you posted on the exact launch date. P-leeeeease be on the lookout for the announcement. Our success will utterly depend on you and your friends getting involved, and telling everyone you know. So blab your brains out when the time comes, OK?
TAKING IT TO THE STREET
I’ve designed a street shoe for you that looks just as great as it feels, because I know that comfort and style can live peaceably, side-by-side, in any product. You probably recognize this shoe’s origins in our popular Aprés crossover, and you’re right. Only this Next-Gen version is going to be even better. The outsole was redesigned using the latest materials and there will be gorgeous colors to choose from – the ones you’re helping to pick right now. (Vote here, if you haven’t already.) Best of all, your testimonials inspired the name, so ta da, we’re christening it O.M.G., because that’s what you’ll say when you put it on. O. M. FRIGGIN’ G ………….
There are three things about this shoe you’re going to love. First, the upper part is made of stretch lycra, just like what you find in your favorite work-out clothes. This baby fits like a glove. Second, the outsole is beyond cushy – like walking on pillows – because of the great combination of materials. You’ll see what I mean when you put it on. Third, it zips. Easy peasy. Just step in, zip up and go.
We need to raise capital for industrial tooling for O.M.G., because that’s how every good shoe gets made. Each style requires an up-front capital investment in patterns, lasts, dies and molds before production can even begin. And depending on the complexity of the design, that investment can run into tens of thousands of dollars. For small companies like Equipt, crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter are a critical source of capital for projects just like these.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TOOLING
Tooling is the key to producing a consistently great shoe. Period. It’s what guarantees that every shoe coming off the production line is exactly the same, sized correctly, and the highest quality.
Everything starts with a great last, the form around which a shoe is built. Many companies (brands you know…) cut corners and buy market lasts, because it’s quicker and cheaper. And that’s why so many shoes don’t fit! When I started Equipt, I didn’t see the point of doing what everyone else was doing – because it didn’t work. It would have been way cheaper to buy ready-made lasts, but the whole reason I started designing shoes was to make ones that fit women’s feet correctly. Bottom line, a good last makes the shoe – it’s the secret sauce that makes or breaks the comfort of the final product. We worked long and hard on getting ours right. And that’s why the shoe fits.
IT STARTS WITH THE PATTERN & ENDS WITH THE MOLD
The next step is a good pattern. Skilled craftspeople translate designs into individual components and then make multiple rounds of prototypes to test and tweak them. Making tooling is an expensive proposition, so the patterns have to be right before the tooling gets started. Another corner you can’t cut.
The components of the upper part of a shoe are produced with steel dies that are a lot like industrial-strength cookie cutters. Only instead of cutting through dough, they’re used to punch-cut multiple layers of leather or fabric into identical pieces, so the shoes can be assembled consistently.
The soles are the most complex part of production, because they’re typically layered, using a blend of materials with different characteristics. Each layer has a job to do and the right material is critical to getting the performance and comfort desired. Here, it’s the magic combination of PU and rubber that does it.
If you can visualize a waffle iron, you get a pretty good idea of what an outsole mold looks like and how it works. Hot polymers or rubber are poured into it, like batter into a waffle iron, and then shaped and textured by the mold and the heat. Once the outsole is cool, it gets trimmed and sorted by size. There’s one mold for every size of shoe we produce, so you can see why this is a serious up-front investment in production. There’s an art to designing a great mold and it takes an experienced specialist with a keen eye for precision to make a good one. All the parts have to fit. Exactly.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
We are so excited about the coming campaign and getting you involved in this next phase of Equipt’s growth – adding O.M.G to our family of products. It takes a village, people! You can see that this is a complex and costly undertaking and why we need your help to bring it to life. Stay tuuuuuned. When we cross the finish line, I will be there waiting to thank you (smooch, smack, kiss, kiss) – and so will your feet! Promise.