Melissa Chung created a product to solve a problem! She said she loves wearing heels, but like many women, found she had to change shoes when walking any distance. Anyone wearing heels at an outdoor wedding has likely experienced the struggle of inadvertently “aerating” the lawns or damaging their shoes.
Also inspiring her search for a solution was something she experienced in childhood. She witnessed her mother suffering a bad fall when her heel got stuck in a sewer grate. The fall resulted in her mother fracturing her jaw.
“I’m not an engineer,” Chung said. “It was challenging to describe my goal and bridge the gap between fashion and function.”
Chung started prototyping and exploring shapes and materials when the heel protectors she had tried either damaged the heels of her shoes or just didn’t work. She took inspiration from malleable pencil toppers and investigated her ideas through 3D printing. Using technology, she could make changes quickly incorporating customer feedback and iterating on her ideas.
One of the challenges she faced was that in general, Canada doesn’t have as much fashion influence as Europe. Because Europeans tend to dress up more while dealing with cobblestones and grass, the market was more receptive to her heel protectors.
After being selected to showcase her designs at a curated fashion week event hosted by the Canadian High Commission, the company began to receive calls from the fashion community in Paris that lead to the launch of a “made in France product line.” In 2021 Krippit was selected to take part in an incubated program through France’s innovation centre.
She’s done what she calls deep customer discovery to create heal protectors that provide stability through a silicone grip preventing the need for heel repairs while being stylish and pretty. Krippit heel protectors come in several styles and colours with bling are available through ecommerce on her website krippit.com.
Chung said working with Innovation Guelph’s Rhyze Ventures program provided her with a community of women, a network of entrepreneurs, where she values feedback from peers. During the RV program, she has become incorporated in France which has open doors and provided her with opportunities for additional resources. She is now producing her heel protectors in France through the same 3D printing methods she uses in Canada. This makes her business sustainable with a low carbon footprint. She has also been approved for utility and design patents, which she said is important to her as an entrepreneur.
Through the program, IG mentor Eric Solowka has provided validation, support, and direction by helping her focus on what is most important when assessing all the advice and opportunities she encounters. “I relate well with him, and we have meaningful conversations,” she said. “He has provided structure around what’s next, identifying my business needs and helping me prioritize.”
Krippit’s Rhyze Ventures project focused on scaling her business through ecommerce, marketing, funding, and digital marketing, she said. Her father, also an entrepreneur, told her that achievement during unfavourable conditions sets you apart. She is proud of her work, building her company during the pandemic and has more goals in sight!