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Local couple hopes to solve problem with new invention

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 7, 2016

 A local couple is trying to get their invention, Switcheels, on the Home Shopping Network.

A local couple is trying to get their invention, Switcheels, on the Home Shopping Network.

Photo provided by Brad Alan

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — It’s a situation many women are familiar with: All dressed up for a wedding or party, hours on their feet, and it’s inevitable — the shoes come off.

That happened to Linda Allen and her friends when they were at a wedding in Las Vegas a few years ago. 

“At the end of the night, everyone, the women were all walking with their shoes in their hands because they’d been on their feet all day,” she said. 

That’s when she and her now-fiancé, Brad Alan, looked at each other and the idea of Switcheels dawned. 

“He’s always been an inventor. He’s an architect, so he’d always had that creative sort of thing,” Allen said. 

Alan developed Switcheels, a shoe that comes with three different heels that click into place: a standard high heel, a mid-heel and a low flat heel.

“It detaches from the bottom of the shoe, and you take your flat heel and you insert it,” Alan said. “It just automatically connects.”

Alan has had a house in St. Clair Shores since 2003 but had moved to Las Vegas when the recession hit Michigan. A year after that, he said, he lost his architecture job in Las Vegas when the recession came to that town.

“I was flat broke (and) had nothing to do. I had to keep my mind occupied, so I started working on this,” Alan said. “I went from being an architect to a shoe designer.”

Now back in St. Clair Shores, the couple has a U.S. patent pending on the product and has applied for a world patent as well, but now they’re trying to take production to the next level with a stint on the Home Shopping Network.

“We want to put St. Clair Shores on the map — that’s our goal,” Alan said.

The couple has been invited to bring their product to HSN for a pitch to be on the shopping television network as part of the American Dreams Initiative for HSN and Good Housekeeping. They showed their product to television executives and received on-air training Aug. 31 in Florida in the hopes of winning the contest and having their product appear on the network. Alan said that, although they are participating in the contest, HSN representatives have already told them that they will be on the network with their shoes regardless of the outcome. To do so, however, they need to have 500 pairs of shoes built by December.

“We’re just regular working people here in St. Clair Shores; we don’t have $50,000 in the bank,” Alan said. “We’ve been scrambling trying to get investors.

“In order to build 500 pairs of shoes, our biggest expense would be our molds.”

The couple launched a Kickstarter campaign in August to try to raise the funding needed to keep going with their dream.

Allen said they’ve already taken Switcheels to trade shows and women’s shows, where they’ve been very popular. The couple is also being interviewed to be part of a new show about inventors hosted by Steve Harvey in October.

“We’ve just been doing this with paycheck money,” she said. “We put about $60,000-$65,000 into it so far.

“We’ve got someone in China over there ... got a factory that makes the parts, all ready to go.”

The shoes, she said, are great for going from work to cocktail hours, driving or travel. Bringing a second pair of shoes is cumbersome and won’t always match your outfit, she said.

“There’s lots and lots of reasons,” Allen said. 

For more information, check out www.switcheels.com or view the company's page on Kickstarter.

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