If the boot fits: how a new footwear startup is normalizing women in hazardous fields

Being “seen” in the workplace can feel like a lot of different things. It can feel like the satisfaction of having your efforts noticed. It can mean that the gear comes in your size. It can be that there’s a nursing mother’s room instead of just a toilet seat. It can be that feeling you get when someone isn’t presenting the exact idea in a meeting that you literally just said. It can be something very small, but that makes you feel, in that moment, like you belong in your position, at your job, as much as everyone else there. 

Being “seen” in the workplace can feel like a lot of different things.

As a law student, and then lawyer, and then transportation industry executive, I experienced many of these moments firsthand. As my job positions over the years progressed from intern, to employee, to co-owner of a company, those “not feeling seen” moments decreased in number, but they didn’t vanish completely.

One day I had to run from a meeting to the job site where our trucks were located, and I didn’t feel like putting on a pair of typical work boots with my outfit. I started searching the Internet for safety boots that would look good with my professional clothing. The closest thing I could find to a stylish safety shoe was a three-inch black high heel pump with a completely open vamp, exposing the entire top part of the foot, but with a round steel toe built in to the tip — clearly some man’s idea of what professional women might need in safety shoes!

The closest thing I could find to a stylish safety shoe was a three-inch black high heel pump with a completely open vamp… clearly some man’s idea of what professional women might need in safety shoes!

Shoes had been a hobby and lifelong love of mine. My great-great grandfather was a shoemaker in Italy, and I must have inherited the passion. Over the years I had taken shoemaking courses in Cuernavaca, Mexico and the Brooklyn Shoe Space in New York, sketching out boot designs in a notebook and keeping files and files of design inspiration.

So when I went online and could not find the safety shoes I needed, it registered as yet another one of those “women aren’t part of the equation” indignities. At first I got mad. But then I got inspired. I began talking to women, not just in the transportation industry, but in many other settings—STEM, construction, professional kitchens, even art — and I realized it was a major need that was not being met. It was one of those moments when everything collides, and it seems sort of chaotic and foggy, but then the fog dissipates and nothing could be more crystal clear. I knew I had to make the boots, not just for myself, but for all of the women I had talked to and who had become part of my community.

 I began talking to women, not just in the transportation industry, but in many other settings—STEM, construction, professional kitchens, even art — and I realized it was a major need that was not being met.

It took several years of market research, assembling a team, touring factories, and product development, but finally the Juno Jones Meti Boot is ready for release. We are launching on Kickstarter today, on International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The Meti Boot was developed by our team, and then shown to women working in various industries. We took all of the feedback to heart, and incorporated the most popular suggestions into the boot. In this way, the Meti Boot was truly crowdsourced by hundreds of women working in hazardous fields. We were also fortunate to meet during development with footwear industry experts, podiatrists, and the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s.

The Meti Boot was truly crowdsourced by hundreds of women working in hazardous fields.

So what was the result? A sleek ankle boot that does it all: the Meti Boot is waterproof, chemical resistant, ASTM certified for impact, compression, and puncture resistance. It contains a steel toe and puncture-proof midsole. Its natural rubber outsole is non-slip and oil resistant. It has a removable memory insole with arch support. And it looks amazing.

Our mission is to create beautiful safety footwear for women, and in doing so to help normalize the idea of women in nontraditional fields. We want every woman to feel seen, to know she is not alone, and to be empowered to not just work in her industry of choice, but to rise to the top.

Check out our website as well as our live Kickstarter campaign!

Emily Soloby
Emily Soloby

Emily Soloby, MA, JD, is Founder and CEO of Juno Jones. She is a former lawyer, and transportation industry executive. Emily resides in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and two young children.

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