I have been searching the most minimalist sandal since 1998 and the begining of my design scholarship at ENSCI/les Ateliers. After many leather prototypes, I discovered the story about Amazonians who used to dip their feet directly into liquid latex to get something like a second skin protective layer. From that story I drew the first model: the Freshoes in 2006. I was then looking for a solution to make a prototype of my design. With very little money, it was impossible to afford the service of a moke-up agency. Molds for a rubber prototype would have been very expensive. Then the project stayed in my sketchbook for 2 years.
During summer 2008, I was in a very isolated place in the Aveyron's Valley in France with friends for holidays. I had the chance to buy a very basic rubber shoes for kayaking for 8 euros. I drew the line of my design on it with a white ink pen, cut it, sewed the big thumb strip to the bottom. I tried this first prototype right away. Me and my friends have been really surprised to discover that this very minimalist foot protection was holding very well to the feet even during very energic moves. It was also giving very good protection to all sensitive part of the feet, even on the rocky trail. I wore the prototype for various activities during this summer and it was clear that it was turning heads. This is what made me decide to begin the journey to create iGUANEYE company and produce the Freshoes.
The birth of the project
Most of us live in cities. We spend most of our times in closed concrete cubes (office)... or in metal boxes (cars, metro...). Our bodies are most of the time wrapped under layers of clothes. The parts of our body that are suffering the most are our feet. All day long they are litterally locked in closed shoes. One of my favorite moment in a day is when I come back home and can finally get my shoes off and walk on a soft surface.
When summer comes and temperatures get high, we desperately need to remove our shoes. The best is walking barefoot on the beach and ideally anywhere.
But on rough grounds, we have to protect our feet.
The challenge is to get as close as possible to the barefoot walking (aeration, flexibility) while offering support and protection for the feet.
The creative process
I created iGUANEYE taking inspiration from the Amazonian indians who used to dip their feet in latex from trees to protect them.
I did the experience and also dipped my feet in liquid rubber to get this second skin protection.
This is how the iGUANEYE Freshoes were born.
From that point, I entered the classic prototype/3D file iteration until the final product and the first sample injection mold.
The main body is made of a very flexible elastomer. Inside, there is a cork and leather insole for maximum comfort.
At the end of my first crowdfunding campaign, I received a call from a Portuguese sales representative saying that he was working in a big injection company. He asked me to come to Porto to present my idea. I said : « I have very little money. If I come I will need your help to build the mods and develop the product ». He answered : « Come. We will help you » .
This has been a fantastic chance for the project. José (Procalçado) and Pedro (Aloft) helped me a lot. Without their expertise and support, it would have been impossible to achieve the project.
I envision my company as one of the key player in the open shoe business. iGUANEYE offers unique products. You love them or not but they are similar to no other product. We are already selling the Freshoes and the Jungle but we won't stop here. Many new products will come in the Future.
Yes, we need to scale-up. iGUANEYE is in need for maturing his branding and opening new market. We want to be present in the biggest trade fairs in our field and have a strong presence on the web through our website and social media. For that we will need further assistance and money. We are looking forward to build partnership with any company or individual who may help the project to grow and grow with us at the same time. We are not looking for financial investors.
Finding the good partner is key. It is impossible to have a 360° accurate view around your project. Having an expert in one or more fields involved permits to find the best solutions.
Others allow us to reveal the best we have inside.
Beware to unbalanced association. The project must be a virtuous win-win for all parts.