NZ designer Rebekah Craig creates pain-free high heels

Rebekah Craig, the 23 year old entrepreneur behind Auckland-based startup Mbuba (pronounced Boobah), has designed a high heel shoe that doesn’t cause women pain when worn.

A Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $10,000 NZD has been created to fund the shoe’s production, development of a website, and budget for marketing once Mbuba is ready.

Rebekah said that she came up with the idea for Mbuba shoes by designing clothing that she wanted to wear.

“I have a very particular style that is just not available,” Rebekah wrote in an email. “I was thinking about what is typical of Kiwis my age and realised going on OE’s and traveling around is a huge part of Kiwi culture.”

“So I came up with the theme for our SS15 collection and then designed the shoes after capital cities that are popular. Each shoe represents a city.”

With concepts in hand, Rebekah turned to the world’s best teacher: Google.

Unfortunately, Google didn’t have a lot in the way of a direct link to manufacturers, but after much digging Rebekah found a blog about someone who wanted to make bags and used to find a fabricator.

“So that’s what I did,” Rebekah says. “It’s an amazing site. I emailed a gazillion manufacturers and after getting a few samples done, I found the right one.”

Although it sounds relatively straightforward in hindsight, Rebekah found the whole process to be very challenging. Rebekah’s friend and “reluctant mentor” Alliv Samson, was a huge source of inspiration for the young entrepreneur.

“I think having that support really was my backbone to keep going past the initial barriers,” Rebekah says. “To be honest, the biggest battle for me was battling the self doubt. It was a battle in my mind that was the most crippling but I just had to decide that where I was wasn’t where I wanted to remain and the only way out was forward.

“After that, I saved up, ordered the samples, set up a Facebook page, blog and basically worked on talking to more people.”

Five months later, Rebekah is just two weeks away from her Kickstarter campaign ending. If the project is successful and is fully funded, we will begin seeing Mbuba shoes online and in stores by spring/summer 2015. A limited edition release of boots is also scheduled for mid-August this year.

The shoes will be priced between $120 -180. The boots are $160 for early birds then $180 after.

Both the boots and the high heels have been designed to cause as little pain as possible by having a completely flexible outer sole that removes the burning sensation women feel when they wear regular heels. The custom-designed insoles are also created to provide extra support and padding so that body weight is evenly distributed over the shoe.

At it’s core, Mbuba is a social enterprise that wants to raise awareness around the injury that wearing normal high heels can cause. Women’s feet are constricted and put under immense amounts of pressure, just so that they can feel confident and look beautiful.

Mbuba has plans to create products that cater for more than just women. In a recent interview with Alana Nisbett, Rebekah said that the big thing she wants to do is develop comfortable school shoes.

“There’re so many school shoes that are just so shocking,” she explained. “I want to team up with schools or the government to provide school shoes that are sturdy and provide the proper support kids need when they’re running around at school.”

“For me, I always ask ‘Is the world a better place because of what I do?'” Rebekah says. “With Mbuba, the answer is yes.”

You can check out the prototypes Rebekah has designed on Mbuba’s Kickstarter page.

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