Local Man Pioneers the "Retractable" High Heel
Mountainside resident Sean Flannery has launched a line of shoes with retractable heels.
Mountainside resident Sean Flannery brings relief to women who routinely wear high heels. He is behind the convertible high-heeled shoe company known as Camileon Heels. The shoes — which have been featured in magazines and touted by celebrities such as Rachael Ray — feature a heel that retracts to take the footwear from high heel to low heel with one click.
The idea for the Camileon heel, Flannery explained, came from a radiologist, Dr. Handel, who approached him to convert his idea into a business.
Handel thought of the idea while his son was playing with a Transformer action figure in the back of New York taxi. Handel looked to the sidewalk to see women walking to work in their sneakers — not wanting the discomfort of walking around the city in high heels. Once Flannery heard the idea he was immediately intrigued.
After not seeing eye-to-eye on some aspects of the company, Flannery and Handel parted ways and Flannery eventually ended up with 100 percent of the company.
It took five years for him to get the American patent on the shoes. He said his ultimate goal is that it will become a technological breakthrough.
"I don't care if you're Stuart Weitzman or Prada, I want you to have the Camileon Heel technology in your line," he quipped.
The current Camileon shoe is made of fine Italian leather in Florence, Italy, in the same factories as Chanel and Gucci. It retails for about $400 to $500 per pair.
Where the doctor and Flannery differed was retailing the shoe at this price, Flannery believed the shoe would be market better at $100 to $150.
Recently, Flannery moved the operations to Asia, so that by 2013, he can ultimately sell the designer shoes for $100 to $150.
The next step for Camileon heels is "phase two" of the venture, which will include different heel heights. Every 18 to 24 months, Flannery hopes to launch a new heel in different size, color or height. In 2014, he hopes to launch a line of Camileon boots.
The shoes has become popular with women ranging from commuters, to those who wear the designs to weddings. Commuters especially find the retractible heels appealing, Flannery said, but they also come in handy when driving or at venues such as casinos, clubs and weddings.
"It's a great technology," Flannery said. "We've sold over 6,000 pairs to date."
Right now, Flannery only sells the Camileon Heel on his website, camileonheels.com. But starting next week the shoes will be available at Sole — a shoe store in Westfield. They will be carrying three different styles, in all colors and size range for each style. Every three months, Sole will add more styles to the lineup.