Meet a Boca businesswoman who vows to take the pain out of high-heel shoes.
Three years ago, Ilene Greenberg’s description of high-heeled shoes required just two words: gorgeous and pain.
“Comfort? Not so much,” she says with a laugh.
In September 2011, Greenberg launched a company that aspired to change such perceptions. Design Comfort Shoes, since renamed Irresistible by Design Comfort Shoes, creates sexy, high-heeled shoes that are—here’s the kicker—comfortable.
“If you look at shoes right now, it was really time for something like this,” she says. “[The shoe industry is] engineering comfort in sneakers. Why do we have to engineer comfort in sneakers? They’re comfortable already.”
Prior to launching Irresistible, Greenberg had been in leadership and development roles for more than 20 years, including several startup companies. She always knew she wanted to have her own startup but had no clue what it would be.
It was only after watching a “Dr. Oz” promo that the idea struck her. The clip was on stiletto surgery, a procedure where women surgically alter their feet so they fit into their sky-high heels. Some women even went as far as cutting their little toes off.
While Greenberg understood the suffering high heels cause, the idea of surgery, she felt, was nothing short of crazy. So she decided it was time to change the shoe, not the foot. She brought together a podiatrist, a chiropractor and a physical therapist to find the stress points for heels. Then she approached Footwear Concept & Design, a German shoe company, to engineer a design based on her physicians’ research and her personal experience with high heels.
Then came the research and design, prototyping, sample development, sample testing, then more development and more testing. When they found a manufacturer, they went through the entire process again.
“Whenever something bad happened, for the first hour, my eyes would glaze over and [I’d] go, ‘oh God, this is terrible,’” she says. “But then I’d say, ‘This is exactly what we need to know now so that we can not have this problem when we go to production.’”
The process took almost three years because the technology they created for the shoes is unique. The patent-pending design encompasses a shock-absorbent sole, a highly cushioned footbed, stretch panels to accommodate to the shape of your foot and a heel with unmatched stability.
For more from this story, pick up the February issue of Boca Raton. You can also subscribe here.