Yasmeen was 11 years old when she came home one day and told me about a little girl at school that tripped on her loose shoelaces and skinned her knees somewhat badly. Yasmeen felt so bad for this little girl and said to me “daddy, I always watch you doing your engineering work and helping people invent things…you should invent shoe laces that never come untied”.
I didn’t give it much thought at the time, as I was immersed with a design project I was working on for spine implants to help simplify back surgery. Until one day we were watching the movie, “cloudy with a chance of meatballs” and we saw the part were Flint Lockwood invented those spray-on shoes…which, in my mind had to be elastic, comfortable, and the laces never have to be tied. I then looked at Yasmeen and asked her if she wanted to help in the process of designing and creating those shoelaces she had previously suggested inventing.
Yasmeen was always showing signs of wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an engineer. She had a great deal of interest in making things better, ever since she was little. I remember one day I got her a toy for her 6TH birthday. When the toy broke almost immediately upon playing with it, Yasmeen looked at me and said, “daddy, don’t they test these products before they sell them?”
I was naturally very impressed with this question, because it suggested to me that, like me, she was not ready to accept poorly designed things…and she has quickly learned an appreciation for quality products that are designed for a good purpose. Yasmeen and I started conceptualizing different ways of creating these install-and-forget shoelaces. We looked at those curly laces that claimed to do the same thing, yet we found out that everyone whom had tried them did not get the reliable functionality they were seeking. We then looked at other options, such as the draw cable with ratcheting knobs used on ski boots, but they were complicated and they still require adjusting every time.
We talked to friends to see if they had ideas, one idea was take regular shoelaces and cut them into individual segments and tie a knot on each end and insert them one by one into the shoe eyelets, something that was clearly not practical! Then one day in April of 2012, Yasmeen and I were our shopping and she asked me to buy her those colorful bands called “silly bands,” and it was at that moment that we both actually realized that we have a path! Stretchy laces that come in different colors. It sounded so exciting, and at first it seemed like it was going to be the easiest design project I would have ever been involved in…not exactly.
We started the conceptual design and the prototyping process. We had to then try a number of different ways to attach these laces to shoes. Figuring out the sizing and length that would work for most shoe styles and shoe sizes. We had to configure the selection to be somewhat universal in order to reduce inventory and make the product cost effective, for both us, anyone selling the product for us, and the end consumer. We had to try over 50 different materials in order to arrive at the exact blend of materials that offered the correct elasticity, shape memory and durability, after all, Yasmeen wasn’t about to let me design something that didn’t last! It took us just over nine months of development to arrive at the desired design. Yasmeen helped in every aspect of the project, even the packaging layout, the question had now become, ‘how do we make it a good product that people will be happy to have?’ I think we eventually got it, and we hope you will love it!
I am Jamil Nader Elbanna from San Diego, and I want to personally thank my daughter, Yasmeen for helping to push me into creating such a neat, low-cost and demographically diverse product.
Laceout.com has recently added findiit.org (findiit media group) to the team in order to handle the marketing the product, and so far they have set up numerous events, some minor endorsements from semi-pro skaters, and helped gain traction online with the brand.