These shoes are made for talking
Mom invents baby shoe with chalkboard soles you can write on
“I tried to find a US-based manufacturer, but was amazed to find that 99% of all baby shoes are actually made in factories overseas.”
BY EDITH G. TOLCHIN
Boy, let go of a grandma for the first time and she will find – and often buy – the newest and coolest baby inventions! This grandmother is no exception.
Baby Says Chalkboard Shoes, created by Angela Yeakim of Columbia, Maryland, come in moccasins, sneakers, and have some cool kit options.
Edith G. Tolchin (EGT): How did your invention come about?
Angela Yeakim (AY): I am married and have two lovely daughters. This is my first invention, and the idea came to me when my youngest was a baby.
My oldest daughter wanted to play and thought her little sister was too boring! So, while she was drawing something on her mini board and placing it on the baby’s feet, I was thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to have a chalkboard sole on her baby shoes for writing fun messages? This way the older brother can safely interact with his new sister and they can begin to bond.
I created a prototype with materials in the house. My oldest daughter had a blast!
I started with fabric chalk paint on the bottom of a pair of her shoes, but it just wasn’t smooth. Then the peel and stick board didn’t stick at all well. After I started working with chalkboard fabric, I realized that was it.
EGT: So tell us how your end product works.
AY: Baby chalkboard shoes have a soft, chalkboard-like outsole. You can write on the surface with our safe, non-toxic, water-based chalk markers. They don’t smear when dry (unlike regular chalk that smears all over the place), so it doesn’t leave a mess.
Take as many photos as you want and share these new memories with your friends and family. Once you’re ready for a new message or design, simply wipe down with liquid dish soap and water, which then leaves you with a clean slate. These baby chalkboard shoe kits are a great gift for new parents as they can be personalized over and over again.
This is a unique item that is sure to spark new conversations, especially when you let your baby’s feet do the talking. It’s ideal for pregnancy announcements, gender disclosures, baby announcements, vacations, landmark photography, sporting events… the possibilities are truly endless. It’s a fantastic way to get the whole family involved for some fun times!
EGT: What are the components? Fabrics? Sizes and age groups?
AY: Baby shoes come in two styles: moccasins (PU leather) and sneakers (canvas). Each style is available in four colors.
Each style / color combo is available in four sizes: 0-3 months (size 0); 3-6 months (Size 1); 6-9 months (Size 2) and 9-12 months (Size 3).
EGT: Where do you manufacture? If you are abroad, please share any obstacles you have found.
AY: We had this first run in China. I tried to find a US-based manufacturer, but was amazed to find that 99% of all baby shoes are actually made in factories overseas.
I didn’t believe it at first, so I contacted the local SBDC (Small Business Development Center). They put me in touch with someone who had worked in the shoe industry for decades. He quickly assured me that unless I had my own factory, I had to go abroad.
I hoped to be able to find Something in the United States so that I can tour the factory and talk to people in person, so that the process is smoother and faster. However, this was not the case.
In dealing with the factory in China, there were language barriers, and a lot of time was wasted going back and forth until they got the right product. Each time they changed the sample, it took three weeks to create it and another month to arrive. The expedition was also delayed due to a super typhoon in this region (of course it would!).
It took almost 3 years to get the product in the US and ready to sell. It was truly a labor of love!
EGT: Given that this is a children’s product, what kind of Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) testing and certifications do you do for your production runs?
AY: We have taken baby shoes and markers through all required tests to make sure they are safe for babies against lead and choking hazards. Because I had two little ones at home, I wanted to make sure that what I created for other parents was something I would definitely use on my children.
Parents can rest assured that liquid chalk markers are safe, non-toxic, and water-based. The shoes are also free of any component that could be considered harmful to babies.
EGT: Do you only sell from your website or other outlets?
AY: Mainly from BabySays.com, but I also manage sales on BradsDeals.com, Jane.com, Zulily, Amazon. I have also sold to Bump Boxes, The Market @ Macy’s and am in the process of filling out paperwork to sell with other retailers. COVID-19 has really slowed down physical stores, so I’m trying to focus on customers who shop online.
EGT: Please share your experience with patents.
AY: I have had a provisional patent application and am working to get a patent application approved.
EGT: Are you planning to add any new products?
AY: Absoutely! I would like to add other styles of baby shoes and combinations with a chalkboard surface. I would also love to team up with Build-a-Bear and have matching bear and baby shoes. In fact, our size 3 baby booties fit a lot of these teddy bears, so you can use the baby booties after your baby gets older.
EGT: What advice, if any, can you give to readers who might be interested in developing an invention?
AY: Don’t be your biggest obstacle. I tend to get involved! Just let go of all the “what ifs” and dive into it.
Got a great new idea? Do some extensive research and see if it already exists. If not, roll up your sleeves and get to work. It’s gonna be a mad rush!
Details: babysays.com, [email protected]