How One Woman Revolutionized The Fashion Tech Industry With The World’s First Retractable High Heel

In 2018, over 75 million women constituted nearly 47% of the American workforce. At the same time, women are earning more than half of all degrees in higher education; for the class of 2016-2017, women earned 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees, 59.4% of master’s degrees and 53.3% of doctorate degrees in the U.S. We live in a society where women are gaining a stronger foothold in the workforce and the economy.

Though more women are earning the primary income in American households, they’re still performing more household chores and parental duties than men. And despite the long-held misconception that women are better at multitasking, it turns out that just because women are expected to multitask more, doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult. When you add the burden of restrictive corporate attire, especially high heels, multitasking is that much more painful.

Forbes Business Council member Melody Avecilla is the founder and CEO of Runway Heels and the inventor of the world’s first push-button retractable high heels. “As women consistently juggle more and more tasks, we need a pair of footwear that will adapt to women’s flexible and versatile lifestyle,” Avecilla said. As a fashion tech trendsetter, she identified a way to solve the age-old problem of women’s love-hate relationship with high heels through the use of cutting-edge technology.

While Avecilla said the fashion industry had long since abandoned the idea of a two-in-one convertible shoe, she refused to accept that the idea was an impossibility. After four years of trial and error, her “eureka moment” came when she decided to seek help from product design specialists in Silicon Valley, as well as overseas engineers. The result is a patented design that offers women the ability to wear flats or heels on demand.

“It took sheer dedication and patience to pursue a worthy ideal to help women simplify their lives, giving them the convenience of having a two-in-one pair of shoes – flats for walking and heels for work,” Avecilla said. As the host of the new Dreamers to Leaders podcast, Avecilla said her journey from immigrant to entrepreneur and all of the struggles in between – including bringing her innovative fashion tech product to market – inspired her to interview industry icons with humble beginnings who’ve achieved towering success.

Avecilla’s game-changing design stemmed from her own personal experience. Formerly a flight attendant and now a mom and business owner, she said she often found herself juggling multiple tasks throughout the day. “Having one pair of shoes just won’t work for the most part,” she said. “As an entrepreneur with a diversified portfolio from my multiline insurance agency, real estate investments, senior care facility, adventure blog and now a leadership podcast, I’m on my feet a lot.”

After years of first-hand experience with the hassle and inconvenience of carrying two pairs of shoes like most busy women, Avecilla said her vigilance and hypersensitivity to people’s struggles, coupled with her natural curiosity, drove her to find a solution.

Runway Heels has come full circle, from a prototype to a full-blown product that is currently on the market. As a successful real estate investor, Avecilla knows timing is everything, and she’s applied her ability to study trends and changing demographics to capitalize on the budding fashion tech industry.

“Fusion of art and technology is a good combination. People are smarter, more demanding and want more from what they currently wear,” she said. Her advice to other entrepreneurs in the fashion tech space is to focus on multifunctional products that save consumers time. “Think of what is already out there, from socks to hair accessories – the possibilities are endless when it comes to adding other functions that could increase value for the wearer.”

After hearing for years that her product was impossible, Avecilla stressed how important it is to not only be curious, but open, adventurous, flexible and humble to the possibility that perhaps even the experts don’t always know the answer. “After all, we don’t know what we don’t know,” she said. Her success in transcending the status quo illustrates the value of thinking outside of the box and collaborating with experts in different industries.

While fashion tech innovations might seem like a trend to some, Avecilla is focused on creating sustainable solutions that endure the test of time. What may appear unfamiliar and futuristic right now could ultimately become a staple in every woman’s closet – similar, she said, to Bill Gates’ vision of a laptop in every home.

For more information, check out Melody Avecilla’s executive profile here. To learn more about Forbes Business Council and see if you qualify for membership, click here.


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