The OESH Factory is located in an industrial area of Charlottesville, Virginia. Unlike many cities that have substantial issues in managing heavy volumes of industrial waste, for the most part, Charlottesville’s urban economic area is vibrant without being overtly grimy. We’ve always felt fortunate to be embedded in our community as OESH grows–it’s great to be in the midst of such activity. Just beyond the recent elections here, we caught this interview from a creative and thoughtful candidate, Anson Parker, for the Charlottesville City Council (Anson’s full interview on the Charlottesville Tomorrow website, chock full of intelligent ideas, can be found here).
WHAM!, Anson lays out the long-term economic benefit of developing a modern, highly-productive workforce and references one of the brilliant movies of the 1980s…Who says developing a credible economic plan can’t be fun?
Taking shoe design and politics to 11…now that’s our idea of good government!
I received a unique invitation from Professor Richard Crawford to present the ongoing story of OESH Shoes to a group of second and third year law students this week at the powerful University of Virginia School of Law, in the course Finance of Small Enterprises – Law 7606
It was really fun! All 44 seats were full, and the students were fully engaged throughout. Thanks again to UVa and especially Professor Crawford. You can zip through the presentation by clicking here or below:
As we noted before, Who can resist having these on her feet?
Even better, on the near-term horizon is a new line of shoes we’ve had in development for 3 years. (!) Knowing it takes quite the robust product to complement the La Vidas effectively, we cannot wait to soon show all of you on OESH’s Priority Email List (to get on this most-awesome List, tap a quick email to service@OESHshoes.com) exactly what is coming on board later this fall. As the Beatles said, “It Won’t Be Long…’til they belong…to you…”
Turn it up!
The newest color of our superb La Vida v2.0 portfolio, the Oxford, just launched, first to our OESHer community. As is our style, we believe reciprocating your loyalty by offering each of you on the Priority Email List the first look at the latest and greatest from our Development Team works for all. And this post is to say “THANK-YOU” for again showing up and ordering these beautiful Oxfords in a record-setting 2015 day for OESH.
Then again, Who can resist having these on her feet?
Wait ’til the word gets around the University that the Yanks are loving Oxford…in our own, inimitable way. Oh…wait a minute…they’ve heard already? Well then…
OESH recently made a significant improvement when you use the main Search Engines looking for a legitimate answer for Morton’s Neuroma Shoes. Paul Giacherio is the reason for our new, powerful internet presentations, and his thoughtful design for Morton’s splashes in with this image:
And the photo he took of Casey to go with the above is equally compelling:
Obviously, Paul is a world-class expert in design, and you’ll continue seeing massive improvements in the “look” of our website and surrounding material that convey the OESH message cleanly and effortlessly. For the complete new page for the world’s healthiest footwear for Morton’s, click here.
Way to go, Paul!
Autodesk–the world’s leader in 3D Design, Engineering, Architectural, and Entertainment software–today published this wonderful article by Matt Alderton about Casey and OESH. This feature appears in the “Success Stories” tab of their Line//Shape//Space online magazine, entitled How to Become a Product Designer
OESH has had several excellent articles written about our unique successes, but today’s might be the very best of all. Many thanks to Matt for his splendid writing and all of the other great folks at Autodesk who did such a super job. Below is the full article–and indeed, you’ll see some photos of imminent products that might be appearing soon…on your feet.
D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, isn’t a product designer. And yet, that’s exactly what she is.
What sounds like a contradiction isn’t at all. Rather, it’s the axiom of a new era in product design—an era in which anyone can leverage technology to turn expertise into ideas and ideas into inventions. Anyone can learn how to become a product designer.
“I’m a good example of how democratization of design technology can allow a physician-scientist, with no prior background in design, to improve how shoes are designed and made,” says Kerrigan, who six years ago left her job as a tenured professor at the University of Virginia to establish OESH, a company that designs and manufactures “responsive” women’s footwear.
The journey from scientist to shoemaker began more than 20 years ago, when Kerrigan became interested in biomechanics as a student at Harvard Medical School. A former runner, she attended a lecture on gait—the science of walking and running—and became fascinated by the impact of footwear on the human body, which she studied for nearly a decade before publishing a groundbreaking paper in 1998 establishing, for the first time, a link between high-heeled shoes and knee arthritis in women.
“Knee arthritis is a big deal,” Kerrigan says. “It causes more physical disability in the elderly than any other singular disease, but it doesn’t get the attention that other life-threatening things do, because it’s very subtle. People live with it, and they don’t exercise because of the pain and loss of motion [which increases their risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression]. It’s a vicious cycle.”
The culprit isn’t necessarily the height or size of shoes’ heels. The contouring and cushioning of their soles also interfere with the body’s natural range of motion.
“After I demonstrated the link between high-heeled shoes and knee arthritis, I did more research and found out that it’s not just high heels; it’s any women’s dress shoe, really, that abnormally increases the forces in the areas we get knee arthritis,” continues Kerrigan, whose subsequent studies revealed that even a typical running shoe increases joint loads by 50 percent. “People choose shoes based on what’s comfortable for their feet, but I know there’s a long-term effect on the knees. That’s what eventually led me to decide that we need to make better shoes: I wanted to save knees because nobody else will.”
Ultimately, only shoes, not studies, can save knees from arthritis. So, in 2009, Kerrigan established OESH to turn her research into reality. “You can only do so much research,” she says. “At some point I decided, ‘If I want to make a difference, I’ve got to just get out there and start making shoes.’”
She tried to license her idea—shoes with flat, springy soles that support the body’s natural biomechanics—but existing shoe manufacturers were more interested in form than function.
“They were receptive, but their agenda was very different from mine,” Kerrigan says. “They were very into aesthetics; I just wanted to make something healthy.”
Kerrigan’s shoes didn’t just have a different agenda. They also had a different makeup: Unlike most shoes, the soles of which are made from an elastic plastic known as ethylene-vinyl acetate, hers are made from a unique elastic composite material that she developed. Not only is the material unique, it is incorporated into a cantilevered structure in the sole that does not “cushion” but rather “responds” to body-weight forces when they are at their greatest.
“I’m just a physician and a researcher; I’m not a machinist,” Kerrigan says. “But I had to learn to become one because my shoes are so nontraditional; they’re very different from what’s currently being made, not only in terms of their design and how they affect the body but also in terms of how they’re manufactured.”
The shoe industry didn’t know how to work with the material Kerrigan developed, nor did it have equipment that could incorporate that material into Kerrigan’s sole designs. So, Kerrigan established her own DIY laboratory and factory in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she taught herself how to design, model, and manufacture with a variety of design tools, including Autodesk AutoCAD and, finally, Autodesk Fusion 360, which she currently uses to manage the entire production process, from initial design through final fabrication.
“The idea of learning CAD was very daunting, but it ended up being very straightforward and intuitive,” says Kerrigan, who uses the software to operate her own water-jet cutter and milling machine to produce her shoe soles on site.
Kerrigan spent about a year perfecting her initial design through trial and error and began selling her homegrown shoes online in 2011. OESH has been growing and expanding ever since.
“I just had to experiment and figure it out,” she says of design and production. “I couldn’t have done that without technology. The technology is everything.”
The technology didn’t just turn Kerrigan into an inventor. It also turned her into an innovator: Last year, she began using CAD to design and fabricate a dozen specialized 3D printers capable of 3D printing her patented shoe designs, the first of which—a line of 3D-printed sandals—arrive this summer as OESH’s Athena Collection.
“We’re the first to sell a truly functional 3D-printed shoe,” says Kerrigan, who eventually plans to use 3D printing to fabricate the tops of her shoes, which she currently imports from Asia. The result, she boasts, will be a shoe that’s 100 percent made in America—and, one day perhaps, entirely custom made. “I think that’s where things are going: Instead of injection-molding the same part a billion times, technology will make it possible for manufacturers to embrace many different designs that fit many different needs,” she says.
Not only many different designs but also many different designers. Perhaps even you.
“If there’s something you feel passionate about—something you think could be designed differently and better—you can make it,” Kerrigan concludes. “You don’t need design experience. You just need the technology.”
Once in a while, a weather image nails the center of the bullseye. Going for a run this summer Virginia morning, with the temperature already pushing above 80, and pulling the newspaper out of the mailbox when I finished, on page A2 I saw this:
This beautiful photograph (thank-you Bill Shrapnel/Colmar Estate and AP) from Orange, New South Wales, in (where else?) Australia, lit me up today.
To the point that we said, let’s do something neat for our friends around the globe. So we are.
A really underrated strength of OESH has always been our international business. OESHers who live outside of the USA wait the longest and put up with the most hassle (Customs…holy cow, what a cabal…) to receive their footwear–and do so almost entirely without complaint. Thus, given the many international OESHers we serve, we thought it would be a nice gesture to offer FREE SHIPPING during the rest of July to those of you outside the USA.
When you order and the international shipping rates are applied, we’ll be refunding those charges prior to shipment through Friday July 31, just to let you know how much we appreciate you wearing your La Vidas and our other spectacular OESH Footwear.
And all because our favorite marsupial took a stroll in the snow. It looks like she’s waiting for the delivery truck with her new Rococcos (I’m guessing she was that order for a pair of size 7s and a pair of size 70s we got last week)…and I’ll be sure to refund that freight charge asap.
The last pair of Suede Sandals shipped out the door this week–and it was a Sequoia Suede. I think the aesthetics of the Sequoia were awesome…but one of its neat attributes, for me anyway, is that the name “Sequoia” has all 5 vowels.
The wordsmith stuff is neither here nor there of course, but what IS HERE–almost, anyway–is going to be the Lollapalooza of Sandals. Our engineering and design efforts have been geared, nearly non-stop for more than 2 years, in perfecting a spectacular confluence of health and manufacturing. So stay tuned! In the meanwhile, we bid adieu to the Original OESH Sandal design, now joining the 5-cantilever Lizards & Classics as sturdy footwear that we love, but have now made even better. And you’ll see what we mean…very, very soon.
Through the prism of the 21st century, the idea of an annual sporting contest as the culmination of a team’s hard work, sweat, and camaraderie has a purity that holds up well over many years. In a two-day cricket match 188 years ago, Oxford and Cambridge established this tradition and cemented the Varsity concept with an annual boat race in 1829 (when the Blues became Oxford and Cambridge the light Blues). In fact, lacrosse is also played very well throughout the UK, and has had its Annual Varsity every year since the inaugural 1903 match, only breaking for the two World Wars.
The two women’s, two men’s, and the mixed lacrosse teams thus compete for the Varsity trophy (with draws going to the side of the previous year’s winner), this year’s match hosted on the beautiful playing fields of St John’s College, Cambridge.
Oxford won at Varsity last year, hence with a men’s draw and victory, a women’s and mixed loss, the 99th Annual Lacrosse Varsity came down to the other women’s match, in which our favorite OESH summer intern and erstwhile Fresher at Oxford, Jayme Kusyk (#2 on the far left, above), was going to be a participant.
Given that the Cambridge team had played its 10 game regular season in dominant form, going undefeated and bashing Oxford twice in the process, the match was seemingly doomed for Oxford when the Blues called their last timeout, trailing by 5 goals with the last grains of sand nearly dumped into the bottom of the hourglass.
The Oxford student newspaper, the Cherwell, also reported: in what was one of the most nail-biting matches ever experienced by most of the players and many of the spectators…At 7-2 down with 20 minutes to go, the Swifts called a time out and co-captains Sophie Poston and Rachel Wright gave the team talk of their lacrosse careers. In an incredible show of grit and determination, Oxford took control of the remaining third of the match and completely reversed the momentum of the game.
This magnificent shot helped. We asked Jayme afterward if she remembered launching it and she said “yep, that was the only place I saw it could go, right between the goalie’s legs”. The score made it 7-5. One of our favorite family metaphors is that “life is a great reflection of lacrosse”, and when the momentum…in life, a game, whatever… begins to roll your way, GO FOR IT! The caption (repeated in the photo below from the OULC Facebook page), says it all.
Then wrote Helen Record of the Cherwell: With 30 seconds to go and the score even at 7-7, Oxford transitioned the ball straight to attack from the centre draw and in a moment that she, nor anyone else watching, shall not forget easily, Jayme Kusyk scored her fifth goal of the match and sealed Oxford’s victory.
We also pried the info from Jayme that she was indeed named Player Of The Match, and gets to cart around a trophy for the rest of her life. We told her that should make for a splendid goblet suitable for all occasions when drinking is required, such as tonight when we pick her up at the airport and bring her home to celebrate stateside.
Walking outside to feed the geese and ducks this morning, I had to laugh as I was crunching through the snow. We’ve had enough weather variance to make the top surface able to bear the weight of the fowl, but…as I made my way around the yard I couldn’t help but to try and walk “lightly” enough not to crack through the top of the snow and keep my feet dry.
Of course Ivan the Goose was correct in his above assessment–elementary to an intelligent animal, I suppose.
It is kind of neat when the beauty of the OESH Sole is revealed in an unexpected way–but just as the snow surface caves in when all of Bob’s weight is atop his foot (midstance phase of gait), that is PRECISELY the INSTANT the La Vida midsole and sole complies and flexes, too. That moment of weight bearing is when we are most vulnerable to injury (when my foot sinks into the snow below), and this morning was another graphic example of why nothing else compares to the dynamic shoes we make.
As Marcia attests to on a beautiful snowy morning, Viva La Vida!