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Hickies
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By: Teri Bernstein

 

promotional/instructional video from YouTube

 

Hickies is a company that makes one product: silicone bands that connect the parallel eyelets of shoes semi-permanently. Their function is to replace shoelaces in a forgivingly stretchy way so that shoes never have to be tied or untied--they just have to be stretched on. 

 

The idea for Hickies arose from Gaston Frydlewski's habit of not tying his laces--and his observation that others often didn't tie their laces, either. He was in college in Argentina when he met Mariquel Waingarten, whom he thought would be impressed with his idea. She wasn't. But when they reconnected six years later, she could feel that this idea was an obsession that had to be realized. Waingarten and Frydlewski are now both business and romantic partners. They live and work together--and their focus is Hickies. 

 

They were fortunate to garner interest from Topper (a Brazil-based athletic shoe maker) and Adidas. Both companies wanted to incorporate Hickies into their products. But Hickies were also sold (as a novelty accessory to be used on any shoe) in Brookstone stores and catalogs, and in Equinox fitness clubs. Waingarten and Frydlewski received financing from Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. The company also does outreach with the autism community--connecting with a solution to the universal problem of tying shoelaces.

 

Shoelaces are a serious annoyance for me. I have a husky dog that needs to be walked and taken to the dog park daily (not to mention a Fitbit that needs to be fed) so I am often taking my athletic shoes on and off. I'm looking forward to trying these no-tie lace replacements myself. If they work out (and the reviews I've read seem to indicate they will), I will probably buy a few sets as stocking-stuffers for others for the holidays.  

 

I thought that the name was from the term "do-hickey" (definition: "whatchamacallit" or "thingamajig"). But it turns out that Waingarten and Frydlewski were thinking of the other definition: "marks of affection"--which they wanted everyone to have on their shoes. 

 

Source: "At Hickies, a 'life without laces' ties a couple together," by Crystal Kang, wework.com: creator, December 7, 2016. 

 

Discussion:

  • What possible problems could you see with the Hickie product? Check out the company's FAQs to see if your issues are addressed. 
  • Product development: When I was in college (early 1970's), I wished that my Raleigh Grand Prix 10 speed--with its skinny and high-maintenance tires--could have tires more similar to my little brother's "banana bike": thick, tough tread to withstand riding on rocky roads and dirt. If I had only taken my own wish and made a business out of it, I might have been made some serious money with hybrid bikes. The couple in this article didn't like tying their own shoes--but wouldn't settle for velcro shoe models either. They did something about it: created Hickies that could be used on any model of shoe. In a similar vein:  What product do YOU wish existed, or what annoyance do YOU wish solved?  What product innovation could solve that problem for you and others? Think outside the box. Describe your product, what niche it fills, and how you might market it.
  • Why did Waingarten and Frydlewski opt for Kickstarter and Indiegogo funding? How did that work out?