About this project
Before we answer the Who, What and Why, let's take a look at the rewards we have available through this campaign, shall we?
— Who are we? —
Our company, BILLY Footwear, is the brainchild of two Seattle locals: Darin Donaldson and myself, Billy Price. Our focus is on shoes that are fashionable and promote universal design, meaning they both appeal to and work for everyone. This Kickstarter Campaign focuses on the deployment of our initial seven design concepts (our Magnificent Seven, if you will) but more importantly, generates the much needed capital to expand our lines. We need your help, Kickstarter. And we need your feedback! There is no shoe solution like ours on the market. Let's use this opportunity to change the footwear industry and make a huge and positive difference!
After breaking my neck from a three-story fall in October of 1996, I became paralyzed from the chest down and lost the ability to move much of my body, including my fingers. Daily tasks that I took for granted, such as putting on clothes, became much more difficult. Throughout the years I found clothing companies that catered to the adaptive community and I also learned tricks for getting dressed more easily given my function level. That said, the one piece of clothing that always eluded me was shoes—I could never find a pair of shoes that I felt were both attractive and that I could put on independently. Thus began my eighteen year solution journey... but the solution I was seeking for my own challenges grew into something bigger—it became a mission to get shoes to everybody and ensure the shoes were both stylish and functional. I did not want to wear shoes that screamed "adaptive". And after an immense collective effort, we nailed it.
— What's so special about our shoes? —
Our shoes utilize universal design techniques, which incorporate zippers that go along the side of the shoes and around the toe, allowing the upper of each shoe to open and fold over completely. Thus the wearer can place his or her foot onto the shoe footbed unobstructed. Then with a tug on the zipper-pull the shoe closes and secures overtop the user's foot. It's simple. It's easy.
Yes, our shoes have adaptive characteristics, but we would hardly call them "adaptive" in the traditional sense of the word. "Adaptive" refers to a niche market. And although we can satisfy the adaptive market we are not constrained by it. Our customer target is everyone! We are all equal. And by design, our shoes embody that belief.
The term, "universal design" is used all the time in the construction of homes and city buildings, referring to environments that accommodate all parties. Why not apply the same term to fashion? Add some stylish flair and bam, our shoes work for the masses.
Universal design with fashion in mind. It has a good ring to it, don't you think?
— Why are we on Kickstarter? —
From an entrepreneurial standpoint I am very happy and proud of where we are in terms of a start-up company, but I also recognize we have a long way to go.
The purpose of this campaign is threefold:
1. Most importantly, we need capital to make shoes in larger sizes, wider sizes, and 1/2 sizes. The shoes featured in our rewards section only go down to a kid's 11 and up to a women's 10 and men's 12, and we only have whole sizes at the moment. Plus we want to better accommodate our customers with wider feet. This campaign will help advance our manufacturing.
2. We need feedback from you, our Kickstarter audience, regarding the fit and feel of our initial seven styles. Your comments will better equip us for future designs and productions.
3. (This is the fun one.) We need your creative input on zipper pulls. Our shoes give the unique opportunity to personalize and add some bling. The stock pull is the loop, as seen in the pictures. But as an additional thank you, we will be sending you a pair of leather pulls for each pair of shoes you purchase. Beyond what we provide, you have the complete freedom to customize your zipper pulls however you'd like. But we want to hear about your creations! And perhaps we can incorporate your ideas into future projects.
— How can you help? —
Pledge and spread the word! This page is being sent to lots of folks, but it will never reach everyone without your help. Please pass the Kickstarter link along to your friends and family or others who you think will enjoy and benefit from our shoes and apparel.
We have numerous reward levels listed and detailed along the right side of this page. Additional illustrations are shown above. There are many to choose from! Enjoy! And thank you sincerely for your support.
Risks and challenges
Every project unfortunately has the potential to encounter unexpected obstacles and we are certainly not exempt. Obviously we hope everything will be perfect, but if not, below are our outlined risks and our mitigations:
1. Product coming from overseas can possibly be held up at US Customs. Although this does not happen often, it can cause a multiple week delay if it does occur. We have mitigated this risk by working with a reputable third party freight forwarding company and customs broker. We have also had our manufacturer provide the customs broker with the appropriate HTS codes and other relevant product information to insure that the correct duty rates are assigned to our shipments' contents. Taking these actions gives us the best chance of our product being smoothly processed by US Customs.
2. Products can be lost or damaged when shipped by sea, albeit it's a very small percentage chance. We have accounted for this risk by purchasing a Marine Cargo Insurance policy, covering the cost of our products being shipped. In the case that our products are damaged or lost during marine transit, we would submit our claim and move forward with placing a new order with our manufacturer. This would cause a multiple month delay, but we would still be able to deliver our rewards. Again, we would like to point out that this is not a very common occurrence.
3. Products can be lost, stolen or damaged when being shipped and/or warehoused domestically. We are set to purchase Land Cargo insurance in time for the products' arrival in the US, so we are covered for shipment from the port to our warehouse facility as well as shipments from our warehouse facility to the end user. This would cover our cost of any items that are lost, stolen or damaged in transit. We will also be covered by our third party warehouse and fulfillment center's insurance policy while the products are being warehoused.
4. Products can be lost, stolen or damaged in domestic transit and/or the fulfillment process. Members of our team have years of experience handling the logistics and fulfillment process domestically. We have experienced various shipment issues, damaged product, etc.. Over the years, we have established very good relationships with our vendors/suppliers and fulfillment partners. These vendors/suppliers have proven to be great partners when these situations arise—replacing the product immediately and crediting the appropriate amount back to our company. We have found that the net result of these domestic risks has been a few week delay (at most) in delivery. This, coupled with the aforementioned insurance policies, mitigates our risk drastically.
5. When products are being developed, there is always a small percentage of blemishes and/or defects.
— We plan to have additional inventory of all items, so that we will be able to replace items that are proven to be blemished and/or defective. We are working with reputable manufacturers and vendors/suppliers, so this percentage should be at or below industry accepted standards.
— In the case that we have an amazing campaign and sell out of our reward items, we plan to have a fair return policy for blemished and defective items - providing a full refund, covering shipping costs and providing the individual with a discount code they can use for a future online purchase from BILLY Footwear. We will also give them the option to wait and select an item from our future inventory—we plan to be promptly available to discuss these various options over the phone and via email if and when they occur.
6. Product safety risks and product testing: Footwear manufacturers have a legal duty of care to do everything reasonably possible to ensure their footwear is not dangerous.
— First and foremost, BILLY Footwear takes product safety very seriously, especially when supplying products for children. We have undertaken the appropriate steps to ensure that we follow the requirements set forth in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and that our products comply with applicable safety rules under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
— We have done our best to produce quality products by working with a reputable manufacturer and by sending our veteran shoe designer/developer for an onsite visit at the onset of our footwear being produced. She played a hands-on role in establishing the guidelines and quality standards for our production run. The factory will be conducting quality control inspections throughout the production process. We will also be conducting our own quality control inspection when the products arrive at our warehouse. We feel that all of the measures taken will help to significantly reduce the number of blemished and/or defective products that reach end users.
7. General product liability: BILLY Footwear has a general liability insurance policy that meets the appropriate levels of coverage, as required by most major retailers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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