Sitting on a train heading for New York City in September 2010, Christina Daves had an a-ha moment.
Three weeks earlier, the Gainesville resident broke her foot tying up a boat. When the doctor walked in with a big black boot, “I told him I was not wearing that to New York,” Daves said.
“All the way on the train, I kept thinking I can’t go to New York, the fashion capital, in this boot. I kept thinking someone will have something to make it look better. And they didn’t,” she said.
That was the moment Daves decided she would make accessories, MediFashions, for “that awful boot.”
“The whole trip, my brain was going,” said Daves, 46.
When she got home, she began to do research. Nearly 4 million people a year are in medical boots. She determined there were some products on the market, such as waterproof covers, “but nothing fashion-forward,” she said.
Her philosophy is that if you look good, then you’ll feel better and heal better.
After setting up a focus group to determine whether her idea would gain interest, Daves developed a business plan and began designing accessories for medical boots, such as faux fur cuffs, decorative socks, flowers and themed pins. She set up a Web site and began marketing her products that, for now, are geared to girls, boys, teenagers and women.
With persistence and passion, in a little over a year, Daves won an inventors’ competition on Steve Harvey’s show, sold designs to celebrities such as Diana Ross and Olympian Jordyn Wieber, became affiliated with a medical boot manufacturer and is beginning to sell her products in doctor’s offices.
“If you’re not so passionate about something, it’s hard to get it done,” she said. “I’ve had obstacle after obstacle, and then I have to regroup. ‘Okay, that didn’t work. let’s go this way.’”
But Daves never doubted that her idea would catch on. “Most people get it and love it. It’s about making people feel good,” she said.
Kathleen Hewitt, associate vice president for the American College of Cardiology, gave her cousin accessories when she sprained her ankle.
“My cousin said she felt embarrassed walking with her ugly black boot, but once she blinged it up, she was excited to get dressed and head out,” Hewitt said.
Daves, whose company is CastMedic Designs, plans to branch out with ideas for slings and carpal tunnel casts and hopes to obtain sports licensing that would appeal to men. She also plans to expand the market.
“I really think that in 10 years you can walk into a Target, Wal-Mart or CVS and see a ‘heal in style’ section. There’s so much evidence that the power of positive thought helps in healing,” she said.
Share Burns bought a colorful sock and flower for her boot.
“I was disappointed that I would have to wear a boot, but Christina’s accessories put a smile on my face,” she said.