Breaking Heels™

Breaking Heels™ - student project

Hi Everyone!

My name is Aashika and I am starting up a social venture called Breaking Heels. Breaking Heels is a fashion brand that provides women with comfort, style and the opportunity to leave a positive mark. I'm designing and manufacturing a height‐adjustable high heel shoe that fully transforms from a flat to a heel, making it ideal for day or night, a walk to work, or a board meeting. Part of all proceeds from each pair sold goes towards combatting human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

I am human trafficking victim advocate by training, and fashion designer by hobby. This invention came to me after suffering an accident while wearing high heel shoes. Why "Breaking Heels?" Breaking heels is a common phrase utilized in music and is a common street term used to describe women who are forcefully prostituted by pimps. Since this is the cause I've dedicated my life to, I realized my product could do the same, by claiming the phrase back for the movement and combatting the issue one shoe sale at a time. 

Breaking Heels is currently in a start‐up stage. I just completed my patent and now working on prototypes and researching possible manufacturing partners. 

I am super excited to participate in this course to learn more about the manufacturing process and get support for my company. 

Module 1: My design challenge at the moment is adjusting my original CAD model for all major women's shoe sizes (in U.S.). I am using ODesk to recruit an engineer to help me do this. If anyone else has any thoughts to add, please let me know!

Module 2: I would absolutely love have my shoes 100% made in the US. However, I am not sure if this is doable. I have met with a number of shoe manufacturers in Bangladesh, China and Turkey, all of whom can create decent quality women's high heel shoes at a very reasonable price. However, there are several challenges I face:

  • Can an overseas shoe manufacturer make my height adjustable shoes (which ultimately go through a different production process than normal high heel shoes)? I can give them molds/tooling/training, but then that raises another problem.
  • I am only patent protected in the US (so far). How do I obtain proper IP protection if I decide to manufacture overseas?
  • Can I ensure that labor laws and protections are in place when my product is manufacturered? As a social venture working to combat human trafficking, forced labor is a part of the definition and manufacturing overseas makes my supply chain highly vulnerable to potential labor rights violations. 

If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know. I would say this is my ultimate challenge out of everything going on with the business :-)

Module 3: Three qualities of my ideal factory: explicit value statements around CSR, english-speaking and wil allow me to visit as needed. Since I will have various parts assembled in different factories, this will still be the case for all. 

Module 4: Hehe, quality problems?! Oh definitely. I feel this will be something I have to address very early on.  Since my product is a height-adjustable high heel shoe, the mechanism itself has to be perfectly manufactured and assembled in order to ensure that the product properly functions (coverts from high heel to flat), and can be stress tested several times before brought to market. We're using a variety of materials such as a flex rubber sole, spring steel shanks, etc. One way I plan on working to address this is at the final product assembly stage, to create a training session with our manufacturing partner on our shoes and what we deem to be the most important aspects to look at when QCing before finally packaged/shipped.