This article originally featured in Capital Area Women's Lifesytle magazine
For the past seven years an Okemos couple has been helping people realize the thrill of victory over the agony of de feet.
Marsha Keenoy and her husband, Tom, are the creators behind Orange Insoles, a shoe insert designed to relieve pain and suppress weariness through support and cushioning to adjust the foot position and improve body alignment.
“More support means less fatigue and fewer injuries,” Marsha said. “We try to explain to people that it’s like your car. Once things get out of alignment, all sorts of things go wrong. In the body, poor alignment can lead to hip, back and other pain.”
The insoles are available in three varieties: the full-shoe insole for athletic shoes comes in specific sizes that don’t require trimming, a three-quarters insole is made for dress shows and a 4-inch deep-heel cut is used for high heels and cleats. The concept for the product came out of a need Tom saw as the co-owner of Playmakers, an active and casual footwear store in Meridian Township that places an emphasis on running. Tom found himself taking the insoles in the store’s stock and modifying them with extra padding and support to meet the needs of customers.
“He knew there was something missing,” Marsha said.
Tom teamed his retail experience with Marsha’s sales and marketing experience working for a liquor distributor to partner in the business venture.
“That was the fun part – to learn the manufacturing side of it together,” Marsha said.
The Keenoys attended the MAGIC fashion showcase and trade show in Las Vegas to get in touch with manufacturers and investigate fabrics and other materials that would best suit their concept before developing their prototype.
“We spent a year tweaking it,” Marsha said. “It was a long process, but when you’re developing this, you’re talking about something that is the width of a nickel.”
The product’s name came from pure practicality. From his experience at Playmakers, Tom knew that customers often came to the store for insoles but couldn’t remember the name of the brand they used and often identified it by its color. Orange Insoles are, in fact, orange, which Marsha noted is vibrant and fun. Why not make the name easy to remember too?
“We wanted to make it as simple as possible so that people don’t have to remember a funky name,” she said.
Playmakers, naturally, served as the initial retail outlet for Orange Insoles, but the product’s availability has since spread throughout the Midwest, primarily in stores geared toward running. However, Marsha noted that they are not designed specifically with athletes in mind. The couple also gets referrals from doctors, who like the product because it is heat-moldable.
“Orange Insoles are really driven with the needs of blue-collar workers in mind – anyone who has to stand on their feet all day to make a living,” Marsha said. “Our thought was always, ‘How can we help their lives?’”
What started out as a business run out of the Keenoys’ garage has grown into a wide-ranging operation that now relies on the Lansing-based Peckham for its shipping and warehousing needs. The response the couple has received to Orange Insoles through testimonials has been nothing but positive.
“They’re really heartwarming to hear. Within a day to three days, insole users say their pain is gone – their hip pain, their back pain. They’re living a pain-free life now,” Marsha said. “I believe it really changes lives. People can’t believe an insole can really make that big of a difference. This has been a great opportunity to take on. It has been wonderful to hear some of the testimonials of how people’s lives have been changed, and how they’re now living pain-free. It was so inspiring. I told Tom, ‘We can go bigger with this.’”
Bigger, but with specific direction and purpose.
Tom noted that the couple wants Orange Insoles to expand, but the growth has to be done right. He said he doesn’t want it to be a product that a store owner simply puts on the shelf. He wants each retailer to have a full understanding of the brand and represent the objective behind it.
“If it’s done right, it really can make a difference,” Tom said.
The couple takes a holistic approach to the product and how it can improve the lives and well-being of the user, Marsha said, adding, “The goal is for them not to need an insole one day in order to be pain-free.”