Leslie Clark is feeling more comfortable in her job thanks to a new shoe that is gaining popularity among health care professionals.
A nurse practitioner at Massachusetts General Hospital, Clark has been wearing Akesso professional footwear for a month and she gives the new product positive reviews.
“I said I would give this new shoe a try and I was actually very impressed,” said Clark, who has been in the field of health care for 30 years. “They’re very comfortable. Immediately when you put them on, they’re lightweight. They’re terrific shoes.”
Clark said she works 12-hour days on occasion and the superior cushioning, support, and flexibility of the shoe give her additional comfort. “The shoes are comfortable all day,” said Clark. “I like the fact that they’re lighter than the clog-style shoe that I’ve worn. I really like the way the shoes feel on my feet.”
Clark has recommended the lightweight shoe to her nursing colleagues and physicians. “Anyone who is on their feet a lot all day, I would absolutely recommend this shoe.”
Bettina Kolker, a pediatric intensive care nurse at Hasbro Hospital in Providence, R.I., switched from sneakers to Akesso shoes three months ago.
“I like everything about the shoes – they grip really nicely, they look really good, they slide on and off easily, and they’re comfortable,” said the 51-year-old Kolker. “I’m on my feet 12 hours a day and often times I have to move pretty quickly and respond to emergencies and such and the Akesso shoes are much more comfortable and they look much better than a pair of sneakers ever would.”
The positive reviews make Bruce Todtfeld a happy man. Todtfeld launched the Akesso line in January and the response so far has been overwhelming.
“I’m extremely proud of the product,” said Todtfeld. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive response. It’s a unique alternative to what’s available right now.”
What was Bruce Todtfeld’s inspiration for creating a new shoe for health care professionals?
“My wife’s grandfather, Charlie, was living in a hospital nursing home and I noticed what the doctors, nurses, and dieticians were wearing on their feet,” said Todtfeld, who had worked in the footwear business for more than 20 years. “It struck me how physical their jobs were and that a nurse could walk three to five miles during a shift and they’re on their feet 80-90 percent of that shift.”
Todtfeld said those observations stayed with him until he decided to build a shoe.
He consulted shoe designers with whom he had worked in the past. “I basically came up with the formula and they did different designs before they landed on something I liked.”
Todtfelt also conducted interviews with health care professionals. “I wanted to find out what they actually needed. They told me they were making compromises in their footwear. Everything was designed for other purposes. Our shoes are 100 per cent focused on the needs and requirements of health care professionals. ”
According to Todtfeld’s research, health care professionals wanted a shoe that was extremely comfortable, looked good, offered traction, and helped protect them from contamination.
“The design criteria were all-day comfort, professional appearance and style, slip resistance, resistance to contamination, and easy to clean.”
The design and development stage for the shoe took six to eight months before the shoe was tested in a work environment. Laboratory tests were conducted for slip resistance.
Todtfeld said he has been in touch with several customers who have purchased the shoes and “the first thing we hear is that they’re incredibly comfortable.”
Kolker said it took a lot for her to convert from sneakers to another shoe, but there’s no turning back.
“No one has ever gotten me out of my sneakers before,” said Kolker. ‘There are a lot of people in the health care profession who wear clogs but they sound noisy and they look really awkward. I never would have considered switching out of a sneaker before because I never assumed there was a shoe that would fit me and be comfortable especially for the long hours I work.”
Akesso shoes are on sale at a store inside Massachusetts General Hospital. They’re available in black, white, silver, and pink in all sizes and cost $90 or $95.
“We’re proud of the fact that our shoes are at MGH,” said Todtfeld, who added that marketing of the product has begun in the Northeast with the goal of expanding nationwide.
Akesso shoes may also be purchased on the company Web site: akesso.com and at select uniform stores that cater to health care professionals