Creator Helen Ketcham tells the story of her OpeToz journey.

OpeToz Creator Helen Ketcham

"If I hadn't had that foot surgery, you wouldn't be reading this right now."

-Helen Ketcham 

OpeToz® Athletic Shoes were born of necessity. That's the plain truth. The first pair of shoes were something I cooked up after having foot surgery on BOTH feet.

There I was, my toes wrapped in bandages while working a job that had me on my feet practically all day. I needed something that was comfortable and could still support my feet and my need move around.

Sandals just weren't going to cut it.

I created the best solution I could at the time by cutting the toes out of my jogging shoes. Knowing that they would draw attention from others, I did my best to make them look as attractive as possible.

Once my toes healed I polished my toenails and wore those shoes through the summer. The longer I wore them, the more I liked them. Everywhere I went people asked me about my shoes. I never thought much of it, until one day...


The pedicure that changed my life

On just another visit to the nail salon, I went to get a pedicure and wore the jogging shoes with the toes cut out. One of the nail technicians called out "Look at her shoes."

The place was packed, and I think every woman in the salon turned to get a glimpse of my fancy footwear. One woman wanted to know where I bought them, and then another woman wanted me to make her a pair. In no time at all, practically half the customers at the salon were talking about getting their own pair of open toe tennis shoes.

Image of Helen wearing OpeToz Athletic ShoesHelen Wearing OpeToz Athletic Shoes

I was so excited about all the interest in my shoes that I ran out of there before I could get my pedicure... right to a patent attorney's office (well, almost). After answering questions and filing the paperwork, I received a patent for an open toe athletic shoe and was on my way.


The shoes that almost weren't

I knew I had a great idea, but getting a proper design, prototypes, and someone to make the shoes for me was a much bigger undertaking than I had expected. However,  I was determined to find a way to make it work. My exhaustive research and planning ultimately resulted in flying to China with my husband to meet with the man who said he could make my idea a reality.

Once there, however, my hopes for open toe walking shoes were dashed. The people we met with simply didn't understand my vision, and I had no confidence that could produce the kind of shoe I had in mind.

Oh boy, was I disappointed! We felt as though our trip was wasted, but our luck quickly changed when we met a man by the name of Christopher Buck. This kind man could see that we were a long way from home and needed help. He told us about a friend of his in the shoe business and suggested we call him. Giving me the the phone number and email address, I called his friend Cyan Cooper the same day, and he sounded like just the man for the job. He was like a miracle from God.

Image of Vincent and Jane each holding an OpeToz Athletic Shoe in the factory where they are being manufactured

The rest is history. OpeToz went from an idea to a beautiful product. Now we are selling our second iteration of OpeToz Athletic Shoes with the help of Vincent and Jane who have been helping with manufacturing. 

Special Thanks to Cyan Cooper, Vincent, Jane, and everyone involved in manufacturing OpeToz Open Toe Athletic Shoes!