A Platform for Positivity: FootSouls. Custom insoles for your Converse and good vibes from an entrepreneur in your shoes.
Gone are the days of Victorian corsets and Chinese foot binding, but today’s trends are not always pure comfort either. Despite a great deal of progress in our societal fashion norms, many of us will still endure hours of discomfort in order to look good. Some such fads live on well beyond their era, evolving from avant-garde to retro chic.
Jacob Zander is no outsider when it comes to his love for Chuck Taylors, the beloved vintage basketball shoe designed in the 1920’s that has changed very little since its conception. But the problem with “Chucks” (Converse All-Stars, if you prefer) is that there’s just so little cushioning or support beneath the wearer’s feet. Stand in them for an hour and those dogs will be barking. Unwilling to convert to a more comfortable model, Mr. Zander has come up with an idea that quite possibly redeems the immortal All-Star and its poor support, lifting it up out of the roaring 20’s of last century and into the 20’s of this century.
At just 21 years old, Jacob has developed a cushioned insole he calls FOOTSOULS, specifically designed for Converse All-Stars. After searching for a solution and finding very little on the market, Jacob began to develop his idea while taking a college entrepreneurship class. At the end of the school year, he entered the idea into a new venture challenge competition and won some seed money. This gave him the credibility to convince a couple of family members to invest in his idea. He opted to not return to the four-year private college he had attended the previous year and instead invest his tuition funds into starting his business.
After an impromptu trip to a factory in Southeast Asia and an on-site crash course in manufacturing, Jacob received his first samples in September of last year and had a few of his friends test them out. “There are a bunch of different foams I was having people test. I had numbered them 1 through 9, and all of them liked number 5 the best!” It was just the result he had been hoping for – a clear winner; the best option without a doubt. From there it was only a matter of time before his apartment became filled with stacks of his new product, and FOOTSOULS was up and running.
When it came time to launch, Jacob had already done his homework. Having attended Coachella music festival the previous year to see if setting up a booth there could be profitable, he observed, “there were probably 100,000 people wearing Converse at Coachella.” And so, just two months after picking up his first shipment, he was launching FOOTSOULS just the way he’d imagined, at a booth at Coachella. The feedback was outstanding.
Of course, this story doesn’t end with a budding entrepreneur seeing his vision for a novelty shoe insert become a hit. Jacob has a bigger mission for his brand: empowerment. He aims to inspire hopeful young innovators by sharing his own journey, so he has filmed every stage of his development of FOOTSOULS. Soon he plans to launch a campaign called “the world at your feet,” in which he will interview high school and college students about their own life journeys. He wants his audience to know that “other people are going through the same struggles as they are. It’s all about taking the first step.” To prove that he’s about more than just sole relief, he has printed the slogan “feel your soul” on each insert.
Jacob believes that his product allows people to be more comfortable and therefore enjoy each life experience more. “It allows you to be more in the moment,” says Jacob. To get a feel for the infectious positive energy this young businessman possesses, just check out his YouTube channel, which includes his advice on finishing school and where to find cheap Levi’s jeans in LA. When asked about future product development, Jacob said that while he may diversify to more shoe types for FOOTSOULS to fit into, he wants to stick to just “classic” shoes. The fun retro vibes are here to stay, and now with added comfort!