A fusion of tech and fashion: South Florida-based Ilene Berg Shoes
You likely don’t think of shoes when you hear the word technology. Which is why so many at this years eMerge America’s Tech Expo were so surprised to see a Ilene Berg shoes front and center. “I thought, ‘what do shoes have to do with tech,'” one eMerge attendee told me. “Then I realized it was actually pretty smart, they stood out among the tech companies.”
Ilene Greenberg, CEO of Ilene Berg Shoes, likes making a splash with her fashionably-tech advanced, yet comfortable shoe line. I spoke with her after eMerge wrapped up to learn more about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur and how technology drives her company.
Q: Can you tell us about the technology behind your shoes?
Ilene: We looked at all of the “pain” points most women experience when wearing a high heeled shoe. In collaboration with a German engineering and shoe design firm, medical professionals and shoe craftsman from around the globe, we addressed these issues and came up with a better high heeled shoe design. Some of these elements are patented and include:
- Patented shock absorbing sole technology incorporating multiple components in the platform reducing impact and stress on the foot when walking or standing
- Our Patented signature stretch panel is functional that will stretch to the unique shape of your foot
- Ultra supportive double plush footbed
- Reduced slope to decrease gravity’s impact on the ball of the foot
- Ultra Stable Reinforced Heel
- Sure footed slip resistant Outsole
Q: How did you wind up in the shoe business?
Ilene: I had become very frustrated by the difficulty of finding high heels that fit properly and didn’t leave me in excruciating pain. I found many of my friends and family who were also frustrated, so I started doing research to learn more about the market. I found out that most designers fell into two camps -those that only designed for comfort and others that only designed for the latest fashion trends. I then heard a promo for the Dr. Oz Show – “women who cut off their little toe to fit into designer heels.” I couldn’t believe that women actually did that, but after doing some research, I found out it was true. Women actually had the craziest procedures just to wear high heels. I knew it was time to change the shoe and not the foot! I was fortunate that the company I worked for at the time sold advertising to companies in the engineering space and there were many engineers on staff that I was able to discuss this with. As the project expanded, I collaborated with medical professionals, a German engineering and design firm, and footwear craftsman, to develop the technologies we have today that are both sexy and comfortable finally giving women the alternative they have been seeking!
Q: What inspired your technology and design?
Ilene: I created a “wish list” from the more than 100 women I spoke to, asking them if there was a comfortable high heel, what would you like to see? And we took those comments and created the basis for our designs.
Q: What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur in the fashion or tech space?
Ilene: The one thing I always tell any young entrepreneur who have a unique idea, do your homework first. Make sure that you have a large enough market that market truly has a need for your product. If after your research, you find that to be the case, then make your plan and move it forward every day. It will happen, maybe not in your time frame, but you can make it happen. I never in a million years would have envisioned where I would be today, five years ago! The other thing, I always advise is be prepared to find financial sources to fund your business. Your new venture will always cost more than you may have projected, especially if it is a product and not a service!
Q: Have you faced any challenges as a woman in this industry?
Ilene: Surprisingly the footwear industry has more male CEOs than women and although there are many women designers, most are still men. That being said, the challenges I face in my business, is more that I did not come from the fashion industry originally. Having those connections makes it less challenging to get placement in the big box stores. I have a technology that most women designers do not have, which does open other opportunities for my brand.
Q: Which fashion shoe designer do you admire most?
Ilene: I always liked Diane Von Furstenberg. She was one of the first women designers who designed styles that made a woman feel sexy and beautiful.
Q: What sets your shoes apart from better known designers?
Ilene: My shoes will never replace a Jimmy Choo or Ferragamo. Women will always wear those shoes, simply because they are well known designers. My goal is to be in every woman’s closet and be the go to pair of shoes when a women must be on her feet all day and all night.
Q: What’s the best complement you’ve gotten from a customer?
Ilene: I’ve received from clients that definitely put a huge smile on my face –
“I have now purchased FIVE pairs of shoes. I am not embarrassed to say these shoes are a FULL-ON addiction. You really need to start a support group for us! Thank you for designing the most comfortable, fabulously sexy shoes ever!” – Maria Acevedo, Guenster Law
“I wore my shoes for the first time last night and they were a dream, I loved that I could walk in heels that looked like that but didn’t hurt my feet!!!” -Melissa Pacheco, Chameleon Collection
To learn more about Ilene Berg Shoes, visit https://www.ileneberg.com.
Want to see your tech startup, company or product featured? Please contact Elizabeth Becker, firstname.lastname@example.org