A renowned orthopedic surgeon turned luxury shoe designer, has revolutionized the footwear industry with her innovative approach to shoe design. Her medical background played a significant role in creating Enrico Cuini Footwear, which marries fashion and technology. Dr. Rose’s intimate understanding of foot biomechanics led her to develop shoes that look beautiful and provide unparalleled comfort.
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In 1999, Dr. Taryn Rose launched her first line of shoes, combining her love for high heels with her knowledge of foot health. She aimed to empower women by offering fashionable footwear that didn’t compromise on comfort. A decade later, she sold her brand, but her passion for shoe design didn’t wane. In 2018, she returned to the industry, collaborating with architect and engineer Enrico Cuini to create a line of ultra-luxe, ultra-high heels.
Dr. Rose’s medical expertise played a pivotal role in the creation of Enrico Cuini Footwear, she recognized the need to address the immense pressure exerted on the ball of the foot when a woman wears high heels. To combat this, she developed A.L.I.A. (Active Lift In Alignment) technology, which increases the surface area in contact with the foot, thereby reducing pressure.
This dynamic support system responds to the movements of a woman’s foot, providing continuous support and stability, even in the slimmest stiletto heels. The brand’s innovative approach extends beyond shoe design to customer service, where artificial intelligence (AI) is deployed throughout the customer journey. The company uses AI and image recognition software to create a 3D reconstruction of customers’ feet from photos, taking over 20 measurements.
This data is then processed by a proprietary algorithm to calculate how to make the shoes, ensuring a perfect fit for customers with unique foot proportions or sizes that deviate from the standard fit. The A.L.I.A dynamic support system is a game-changer in the footwear industry. Made with advanced materials like carbon fiber and nanotechnology resin, it is thin, lightweight, and suitable for even the most elegant silhouettes.
It supports all three arches of the foot and places joints in the most optimal position, enhancing comfort and stability in Enrico Cuini shoes. Enrico Cuini Footwear has garnered a significant following, including celebrities and professional women, thanks to its commitment to delivering on its promise of comfort and style
In an exclusive interview, Dr. Taryn Rose, co-founder and shoe designer, she shares her journey of revolutionizing the footwear industry with Enrico Cuini Footwear. Leveraging her medical background and understanding of foot biomechanics, Dr. Rose has been instrumental in creating shoes that not only exude luxury but also offer unparalleled comfort.
1. Dr. Taryn Rose, as an orthopedic surgeon turned shoe designer, how did your medical background influence the creation of Enrico Cuini Footwear?
As a female orthopedic surgeon, I understood the unique physics that needed to be overcome when a woman wears high heels. We knew that we needed to address the 7X body weight that is loaded on the ball of the foot when a woman is in a 3-inch heel. Therefore our A.L.I.A. technology increases the surface area in contact with the foot to decrease the pressure. A.L.I.A. stands for Active Lift in Alignment because our support system is dynamic and responds to the movements of a woman’s foot. We don’t have Barbie feet. Our feet move in 3 dimensions and the most advanced support system will follow your movements with continuous support. Our technology also provides greater stability even in the skinniest stiletto heels because we have changed the traditional structure of the entire shoe. Using advanced materials like carbon fiber and nanotechnology resin A.L.I.A. is so thin and lightweight it is good for even the sexiest, slim silhouettes.
2. Dr. Taryn Rose, you created a footwear collection in1999 that married fashion and function and was highly successful. Were you focused on using the same strategy model to launch Enrico Cuini or did you do something different…and why?
The DNA of wanting to give women the footwear to feel their best while looking their best is the same but the model and the technology is different. First there has been so much advancement in high performance materials, AI, digital marketing that to me it didn’t make sense to try to repeat the same model. I also saw that the wholesale/retail model is quite broken and wanted to go direct to consumer where we had more control of the customer journey, brand experience and financing. This pathway saved us during the pandemic. We didn’t get cancellations from retailers or delayed payments. In fact, our sales were increased 100% in 2021 as our customers sought our personal attention.
You travel the country with your partner, Enrico, to meet customers at trunk shows – has this been a successful model and why? By having a direct relationship with our customers, we were able to gain a huge fund of knowledge and collect data about feet and how shoes fit which was key to building our AI platform. This business model also allowed us to not have fixed overhead of rent and employees which saved us during the pandemic.
3. Can you explain how artificial intelligence is utilized in the production of Enrico Cuini shoes and how it has revolutionized the footwear industry?
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We make custom made-to-measure shoes, and we can do this now at scale using technology which has never been done before. We have deployed artificial intelligence throughout the entire customer service journey. We start from our generative AI chatbot on our website which has been trained with all our information to answer even more complex questions about our footwear brand. Once a client makes a purchase, they can download our app to take three pictures of each feet and our AI and image recognition software makes a 3D reconstruction of the their feet and take over 20 measurements. This data is then sent to our proprietary algorithm to make the calculations of how to make the shoes. We developed this machine learning model after measuring 6000 feet by hand and making 20,000 pairs of custom shoes. It is not as simple as getting the measurements which is already difficult to obtain within 3mm of tolerance. It requires the knowledge of how to interpret the measurements into shoes.
4. How does the AI technology ensure a perfect fit for customers with unique foot proportions or sizes that deviate from the standard fit?
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We built our AI model from having measured over 6000 feet by hand and making over 20,000 pairs of custom shoes. We created mathematical models and other trade secrets we won’t talk about. There is a standard set of measurements and then we look at how it deviates from this standard and what needs to be done when making the shoes to adjust the shoes to these deviations. For some people the conclusion is that they are more than 3 sizes deviation off the standard and then we advise them that they should have a custom last and components made for them. This would cost approximately $5500 to start plus the cost of the shoes. This is required for only a small percentage of customers we see. Most require only minor adjustments to an existing last and the cost is $100-500 in addition to the price of the shoes.
5. Could you elaborate on the A.L.I.A dynamic support system? How does it enhance comfort and stability in Enrico Cuini shoes?
Our A.L.I.A. technology increases the surface area in contact with the foot to decrease the pressure. A.L.I.A. stands for Active Lift in Alignment because our support system is dynamic and responds to the movements of a woman’s foot. We don’t have Barbie feet. Our feet move in 3 dimensions and the most advanced support system will follow your movements with continuous support. Our technology also provides greater stability even in the skinniest stiletto heels because we have changed the traditional structure of the entire shoe. Using advanced materials like carbon fiber and nanotechnology resin A.L.I.A. is so thin and lightweight it is good for even the sexiest, slim silhouettes.
6. Enrico Cuini Footwear has gained a significant following, including celebrities and professional women. To what do you attribute this success?
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Our product is real. It is not just marketing claims so our clients can feel the difference. When we deliver on the promise because we did the hard work of innovation, the customers can tell. 40% of our customers buy more than one pair and 20% buy more than 8 pairs. Women are so grateful not to suffer from a 15 yr old celebrating her quinceanera to the 45 year old mother of three who wants to get her sexy back after giving up on heels.
7. As a tech enabled brand that provides custom footwear, are your customers repeat buyers? and who are they?
Our customers are busy professional women, and they love it that we take the stress of knowing what size to buy off their plate. 40% of our clients are repeat customers because we have such a great product and provide great service.
40% of our clients are repeat customers. 20% own more than 6 pairs. We invest a lot of time and effort to ensure our customers are satisfied with their first pair because their life time value is so great.
Enrico Cuini footwear seems to be an “investment,” what are the benefits customers can expect from the shoes you make?
People really want to invest in their sense of well-being. Our shoes really pamper their feet with the best materials and craftsmanship as well as the most advanced engineering and technology. Our customers feel better in our shoes while still being able to look incredibly sexy.
8. What future plans do you have for Enrico Cuini Footwear, particularly in terms of technological advancements and expanding your customer base?
We have really built a great foundation and now seeking to increase brand awareness and expanding into international markets. I don’t know any other designer shoe company that has built so much technology into the shoe and into the entire customer journey. Eventually we will also 3D print some of our components. We don’t want to make an entire 3D printed shoe at this point because there is still something about a hand-crafted shoe that whispers with luxury. I feel people still want the human touch and soul that goes into an Italian hand-made shoe.
9. Finally, what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to disrupt traditional industries with innovative technology?
Use technology to solve customer pain points and your own pain points. People are afraid of generative AI for example, but I want to use it more and more in customer service because it is difficult to train people the complex technical things we think about when making a shoe. With generative AI, I can hire empathetic staff with the right attitude and leave the technical issues to the AI. We feel our app and algorithm will just continue to get better with more data so the sooner you start, the more data you will have. In general, the shoe industry is stuck in the last century. It is ripe to be disrupted by technology.