As an occupational therapist who works with adults that are learning to survive, thrive, and persevere…
after illness, recent hospitalizations, injuries, or new circumstances, one of the largest areas of difficulty I see across the continuum whether I am working with a 40-something-year-old recovering from a recent CVA or working with a 90+ year-old recuperating from a surgery due to a broken hip from a fall — people across the age spectrum have so much difficulty putting on their shoes — even WITH adaptive dressing equipment. (note: slip on night shoes do not count as real shoes #fallrisk).
For this reason alone, when the opportunity to collaborate with Friendly Shoes fell into place, I already was on board because I truly see the need for this type of shoe to be on the market as an inclusive, accessible, and stylish option for people of all abilities.
So what exactly is the hype about Friendly Shoes?
A really great shoe that’s easy for all to put on”
Friendly Shoes is a fairly new start up company created by an occupational therapist, Joseph, who asked the question, “Why are proper shoes so difficult to put on?”. Joseph tried the typical things that we do as occupational therapy practitioners such as training his patients with alternative strategies in addition to using standard adaptive dressing equipment such as a long handled shoe horn, but in most cases patients still needed help to either readjust the heel of the shoe or adjust the tongue of the shoe or then they still could not get the shoe tight enough (even with the good ole attempt of using elastic tie free laces).
Basically, from what I have gathered since collaborating with this company, Joseph felt a pull to make shoes easier after seeing patients, family members, friends, and peers struggle. His ultimate goal was to create a technology solution to compose a supportive active shoe that did not compromise style or aesthetics. The overarching goal was to create a shoe that people (of all abilities) who work on their feet would want to wear because of the comfortable, functional, and stylish components. Boom. Friendly Shoes was born!
What is the Coolest Feature of Friendly Shoes?
The zipper feature!! Ahh I actually love love lovvveeeee this. So basically instead of having to worry about the heel of the shoe bending, the wrap around zipper feature provides a supportive avenue to surround your heel with a quick and simple zip. The Velcro is even able to survive a wash from your washing machine although I do not recommend doing that.
Another component that I love about Friendly Shoes are the multitude of colors to choose from which include classic colors as well as fun colors such as Rose Gold and Blue Suede. (public service announcement >>> Rose Gold <<<< is a total mood.)
What is Easy Shoe Access?
Proper shoes can sometimes be a total pain, so Friendly Shoes made putting on shoes easier. The patented zipper equates to Easy Shoe Access, and the Friendly Sole System promotes safety during mobility and improved living for adults of all ages and abilities.
Easy shoe access allows people with low grip strength to perform “easy on, easy off”. Public Service Announcement, ESA / Easy Shoe Access needs to be trending. #ESAhurrayyy!!!!!
Slip your foot in, zip it up quick, and go!!!
How’s the price?
Clutch. Fair. Honestly really good especially when you take into consideration that the shoes are: *ADAPTIVE friendly *ELDERLY friendly *PREGNANT friendly *ECO friendly *ETHICAL friendly *SUSTAINABILITY friendly... and if you sign up for newsletters or follow them on social you gain access to discount codes and every other month – giveaway opportunities!!!
The prices change from time to time but here is the current price range WITHOUT DISCOUNT CODES (ie it is worth it to follow their media sites such as Friendly Shoes on Instagram (as well as can find them on Facebook or scroll to the bottom of this blog to sign up for the newsletter): $79 – $129
Who are the People Behind the Shoes?
- Husband, Father, Occupational Therapist, and Inventor of Friendly Shoes
- Originally from New Jersey with Blue Collar roots
- People describe him as a hard worker and someone who does not quit
- Solution finder and problem solver
- learned firsthand as an OT that people across the age spectrum struggle in putting on shoes which creates all sorts of problems including a reduced lifestyle, limited mobility, social isolation, and reduced self-image
- from the loss of his beloved mother, he felt the push to follow his heart and build Friendly Shoes
- 4 years later after testing loads of ideas – he along with the support of a few others – developed a novel adaptive footwear technology that can accommodate the gamut of challenges that age, physical, neurological, you-name-it-kind-of challenges without sacrificing the fashion and comfort of a shoe design
- Husband, Father, Self-reported recovering Attorney, and Co-founder of Friendly Shoes
- From the Big Island of Hawaii
- He is the jack of all trades and the wearer of multiple hats
- Composer land author of “The Second Verse to the ABCs”, which is a song book project to teach children to read
- Personal mission to help children learn to read sooner which he attributes to by providing copies of the ABCs songbook to parents and kids in communities within the San Diego Community
- Fiancé, PhD Scientist, Health Teacher, Soccer Coach, and Co-founder of Friendly Shoes
- From the northern suburb of Chicago
- He is the organizer more behind the scenes type who is detail-oriented in doing a variety of different things such as choosing specific shoe colors and graphics or working on more of the logistics data side of things
- Edwin met Joseph when Joseph was the occupational therapist that was caring for Edwin’s father who had hip surgery. Edwin was immediately sold by how Friendly Shoes helped his own father which was the igniting flame to join Edwin to the Friendly fam.
- Inventor of one of Friendly Shoes Top Slogans -> “Be Different, Be Friendly!”
But Why and How did I get Involved with Friendly Shoes?
Short answer: it was fate (lol I am kidding people) because a) I love other occupational therapy practitioners and learning about their roles b) I love shoes especially pretty ones 😉
Long answer: Since September of 2019, I have been in constant communication weekly with the team of Friendly Shoes which is compromised primarily of Joseph, Ryan, and Edwin (see above paragraphs for brief bulleted bios). What started off as a friend tagging me in one of their Facebook posts turned into a genuine interest. Simple direct messages turned into daily – weekly group what’s app messages, occasional phone calls, and emails about current and future plans and dreams all surrounding around the theme of increasing the availability of stylish, easy access shoes to all and for all.
In late 2019, after their careful consideration they decided to add me as a media marketing consultant— which by the way is an occupational role that they definitely do not teach you about in OT school. Basically, I work on a month to month contract by providing creative content as well as recommendations for increasing the reach to share the primary goal of providing the opportunity for persons of all abilities awareness of Friendly Shoes.
Since the start, I have been eager and zealous because after I got my first pair of Friendly Shoes, I was absolutely hooked. I even got my grandma and my husband hooked!! I have also shared about them to therapists and rehab therapy students in my area. One thing I am careful not to do… — however — I definitely wear them often to work where I see patients of a myriad of diagnoses, backgrounds, and abilities BUT I DO NOT “sell them” to my patients.
Let me give an example. Say for instance I am working with a patient who has had a recent fall or had a hip replacement etc, and I am trying to maximize their safety and ease of getting into and out of a tub shower combo.If you think I am going to recommend a shower chair to someone who has a tub shower combo–you are wrong.I likely will facilitate practicing the task of transferring into and out of the tub/shower with the addition of a tub transfer bench (which allows the person to back up to bench like a chair, sit down, and swing legs over – rather than step over the tub wall) followed by providing resources and patient choice of where to purchase (if desired) said tub transfer bench (such as Amazon, Durable Medical Equipment stores, CVS, etc…). This example is similar to the way I go about sharing Friendly Shoes to patients. Under no circumstance, do I specifically market the shoes to my patients; instead I share the information openly (i.e. give them the website URL) and keep it simple without providing any affiliate codes of ANY kind or in anyway. Although I truly believe in the Friendly Shoes product line, I am very conscious and considerate and ethically intentional to provide recommendations without sharing bias when I am working as a clinician.
So long story short, they liked my Instagram @shannenmarie_ot and my love for sharing about occupational therapy, so I am here for as long as they will have me as a consultant?/ media marketer?/ insert my title here?— and am appreciative of the journey 🙂 !!!
Sooooo What’s Next for Friendly Shoes?
Without giving away too much info just yet, let’s just say Friendly Shoes is growing to offer shoe solutions to ALL ages #easies 😉 !!! Also, Friendly Shoes is going to expand its presence by showing up at conferences… you just wait. No really it is going to be awesome!!!
So, there you have it. If you are out there in this online world trying to figure out your next shoe for your #shoefie (I just learned this apparently is a thing…) I have your solution –> FRIENDLY SHOES!!
******I ALSO HAVE A DISCOUNT CODE – Use Code 10kShannen25 for 25% off your Total Price!**********