Women Who Inspire: Melissa Chung of Krippit
There’s nothing worse than attending a friend’s outdoor wedding sporting a new pair of pumps, but your heels keep sinking in the grass. Meet boss babe and founder of Krippit, Melissa Chung, who pairs fashion and tech to create a new, 3D printed, heel protecting device. Krippit is a heel cap designed to keep your favorite pair of heels looking brand new while helping you avoid sinking into the ground and tripping on uneven surfaces. Based in Toronto, Krippit fits most heels (over 50% of the market) and comes in classic black and white and even fun bejeweled versions. A customizable option will be available soon on their website.
Before starting her own business, Chung worked in the finance industry for over 12 years. Everyday, she worked with businesswomen who always had to look the part with the perfect pair of heels in a male-dominated industry where their appearance took precedence over their skills. Her mother had been one of those women and was the inspiration for Krippit later on.
On a sunny fall day in downtown Toronto, six year old Chung ran across the street, unaware of the traffic and happy to be out of school. Her mother, who’d just gotten off of work, hurried behind Chung in a pair of three inch heels, an arm full of groceries and her son’s hand in the other. In her pursuit, her heel got caught in a sewage grate, causing her and the groceries to take a nasty spill. Her fall resulted in a bruised face and sprained ankle that left her out of work for three days. Looking back, Chung saw this as a consequence of the pressures of ideal womanhood and sought to make things more comfortable with Krippit.
Sitting in a 10th floor conference room, Chung demos a side-by-side comparison of Krippit and her biggest competitor on the market: Solemates’ high heel protector. She had worn the latter to a friend’s wedding on a golf course and noticed a few design flaws. “There’s a hole in the back of the design. There isn’t anything soft and you end up scratching your patent leather. People later have to bring their shoes to the shoemaker to get them fixed,” Chung explains.
She felt she could come up with an improved and unique-looking heel cap with Krippit. Chung’s design has a fuller shape with an outer shell and a jelly-like liner on the inside to keep the heel secure in the cap. The inside is made of silicone to prevent scratching the heel when putting it on and taking it off.
While the outer shell is 3D printed, the interiors are handmade and the brand manufactures it all in-house. 3D printing can take a significant amount of time, and as of now they are able to make about ten pairs a day. In the future, Chung plans on expanding Krippits to be sold in-store.
Even while running her own indie company, Chung still has time for a solid beauty routine she can maintain while constantly attending meetings. She isn’t big on labels, but loves organic skincare like Dr. Sebagh eye creams, any moisturizer that has SPF and products with vitamin C. Preferring to keep makeup at a minimum, her ultimate goal is to look fresh and be practical.
Her advice to young women entrepreneurs: “shut out all the noise.” The business world is still predominantly male, and while it may not be as explicitly hostile as it once was, it’s still difficult for women to gain support and, most importantly, funding. Only about 3% of venture capital funding goes to female CEOs. Yet, there are great resources, like EnrichHer, that focus on helping women entrepreneurs. Through the EnrichHer pitch competition, Chung was able to sign her first big subscription client. She encourages other women to celebrate the “little wins” and stay focused on your goal. “A lot of people like to say ‘You don’t not have the numbers’ or ‘People aren’t ready for your product.’ Just make sure you celebrate the little wins too and that’s how you help filter out the big noise,’” Chung explains. Along with acknowledging the little wins, she focuses on keeping her schedule organized, which helps her avoid stress and filter out the noise.
Being a woman in business can often feel like having to break the glass ceiling every day. At times, women have to figure out a way to make awkward situations work in a way men just don’t have to think about. Chung remembers attending a business networking event where everyone came dressed to impress, heels and all. But there was one issue, the event took place on a grass field. “There were dozens of people to connect with, but the women were all stuck on one side because of our shoes!” Chung exclaims. It looked like there were two different events happening simultaneously.
For Chung, this ended up being a little win because of the great women she was able to connect with. “As women, we’re always looking for allies and it’s nice to meet other women founders who are trying to create something meaningful.”