Take Comfort in Kendra
Let’s face it: finding adjustable, comfortable footwear can be a struggle. Fit qualities are a large part of what our buyers at Mar-Lou Shoes look at when making footwear decisions for upcoming seasons. There are numerous options when it comes to finding shoes with adjustability. The problem with the options sometimes is they are, for lack of a better word, boring. Thankfully, comfort footwear with fun, fashion appeal is no longer a thing of the past.
One of our brand new styles with a little flair this spring/summer season is the Kendra sandal by Trotters. Kendra is made in 4 colors: staple black and tan leathers, as well as two additional multi-colored knit patterns that add a fun edge to the classic silhouette.
Kendra’s patterns are fantastic, but the features are what make this sandal a super-fitter. Three straps across the instep are velcro-adjustable, and the strap around the back of the ankle features a buckle closure with elastic goring for stretch. The combination of these four straps make Kendra customizable from heel to toe (literally). In addition to incredible fit features, Kendra’s footbed is a dream. Contoured and cushioned with EVA material, the footbed is comfy without the so-cushioned-I’m-sinking-into-this-shoe feeling; Kendra is a fantastic combination of firm and soft support. The heel cup cradles your foot, reducing the chance of uncomfortable spilling over the edge.
You may be wondering what the EVA portion from the above description means. EVA stands for “Ethylene Vinyl Acetate”. In other words, EVA is a synthetic, dense foam that provides rebound as it supports your foot. This means your feet experience shock absorption while standing on an EVA footbed. Shock absorption helps protect your joints (ankles, knees, hips) from taking on the pressure of foot-to-ground impact with each step.
Check out the video below to see Kendra in action. Or come try on a pair for yourself!
Smartwool socks are the misunderstood wonders of the clothing world. Customers sometimes say, in regard to Smartwool products, one of the following three statements:
1. “I don’t like wool socks they’re too warm.”
2. “Wool socks are too heavy.”
3. “Wool socks are scratchy.”
All three of these statements are easily debunked when it comes to Smartwool socks. They are made with a specific type of wool: merino. Merino wool fibers are breathable and made to manage moisture. Merino “…can absorb and retain up to 30% of its own weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch” (smartwool.com). What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Merino wool keeps you dry as your body becomes warmer, but adjusts to keep you warm as your body’s temperature drops and becomes cooler. This “smart” wool uses your body’s heating and cooling system to adjust your core temp to a comfortable degree in any element.
“Thermal body mapping” helps determine which areas of the body get the warmest and coolest at any given temperature. This technology is what helps make Smartwool better than the rest. Manufacturers of the products use more wool in “cold” areas and less wool in areas where the body typically heats up.
Last but not least, Smartwool uses a special knit construction to get the most out of merino wool. This helps in the heating/cooling part of construction, as well as the “itch factor”. Merino wool is made of very fine fibers, meaning they do not itch against the skin. In fact, these particular wool socks feel soft to the touch and flex easily, fitting your unique foot to a T.
Smartwool products are just that: smart. They are wearable in winter, summer and every season in between. To learn even more about these fantastic socks, click here.
It’s important to find out what features and benefits you’re spending money on when buying footwear. Knowing how and why a specific shoe will work for you is something all consumers should be aware of. Our men’s footwear buyer, Samantha Leta, gives you the scoop on why removable footbeds might be just right for you.
- “Removable footbeds allow you to put your own insole inside.”
Do you have custom orthotics? Or simply prefer your Powerstep inserts over most shoe supports? Removable footbeds make room for these kind of adjustments. Brands that feature removable footbeds in most styles include: Ziera, Finn Comfort, Wolky, San Antonio Shoemakers (SAS), as well as some Munro American product. When in doubt, especially while shopping online, look at the product features. 9 times out of 10 if the item has a removable footbed that information will be listed in the product features section.
- “Some removable footbeds provide dual-width capabilities.”
Ever fallen in love with a shoe, but found out the company does not make it in the width you need? If the inside of a shoe is finished properly, removing the footbed can provide extra width without losing out on comfort for those who need it.
- “Removable insoles make it possible to put in replacements.”
Sometimes the footbeds of shoes wear out before the outsoles do. This may happen for several reasons. Frequent wear runs down the footbed fabric, may cause unwanted odors and can decrease cushion and support. Some brands, Finn Comfort for instance, have footbeds that can be completely removed and replaced. Some companies will even manufacture a new insole for you.
Did you know your phone is a gateway to clean water for people around the world?
Add up all those times you click the home button on your iPhone or Android just to check the time, or see if you’ve gotten a text, or check twitter and email. What if each time you didn’t check your phone, a child across the world received clean water for a day, or two days, or three days? You’d definitely give up checking your phone if this was possible right?
Well, get ready to eat your words. BECAUSE IT’S POSSIBLE!
UNICEF has just provided us with the simplest way to give back this March with the UNICEF Tap Project. The Tap Project is so easy, there is no excuse for anyone with a phone to NOT be participating. For every five minutes you go without checking your phone, a day of clean water is provided to children around the world by UNICEF and participating donors.
Here are the steps to participating:
- Use your phone to log onto uniceftapproject.org
- Type in your first and last name, and email address
- Click the prompt to get you to the timer
- The site will ask you to set your phone down on a flat surface – once you do this, the timer begins … and so will your self control
The only thing you need to donate to help out is time spent on your phone, literally.
You must keep the website open in order for the timer to run. If you close out, even if you’re not touching your phone, the timer will pause until you open the website back up again. I set it away from me, out of my site so I’m not bothered, but as I glanced over at it just now I noticed that UNICEF flashes different facts about cell phone usage and water statistics. The fact that just popped up on my phone read “44% of Americans say they can’t go without their phone for a day”. We can live without our phones, for 5 minutes at the very least. We cannot live without clean water. Unfortunately, children in other countries face this reality, this lack of clean water, every day.
I understand there may be some skepticism associated with this. How do you know UNICEF is actually going to donate water based on the amount of time you set your phone down? My initial answer would be this: what do you have to lose, regardless? Nothing. People around the world on the other hand, have a lot they could potentially be losing out on. My second answer is this: Check it out for yourself. Click here to link to UNICEF’s national partners and the fine print regarding this campaign.
If you were to write down all the things you truly cannot live without, I guarantee you wouldn’t write down your cell phone. Water would (hopefully) make the list. This is why I challenge you to put down your phone for at least 5 minutes today. Make it a challenge with friends, family and coworkers. I just checked my phone – I’m at 35 minutes for today. That’s one week’s worth of clean water donated to children who really need it, and all I had to do was log onto uniceftapproject.org and set my phone down. LET THE TIMERS BEGIN!
SAS makes getting ready in the morning easy with all the gorgeous slip-ons they have to choose from. From the Simplify to the Metro SAS makes sure you look good, and most importantly, they make sure your feet feel fantastic.
I attempted something risky last night. Stepped outside of my comfort zone, if you will.
Well, technically, I baked. But, still.
Many who know me are aware of the fact that cooking is not my forte. I frequently skip over steps in the simplest of recipes because I get too excited about the end product and don’t thoroughly read the directions. If I’m being honest, I actually missed a step in my first attempt at the recipe I’m about to share with you all. Luckily, I’m an expert problem-solver and found a way to improvise (and it still tasted AWESOME).
Because it’s Fat Tuesday, my inner Betty Crocker stepped out and decided to Pinterest fun, Mardis Gras related recipes. I became instantly intrigued by a recipe for “mini king cakes” – mostly because it involved the least amount of ingredients and steps. I then found ANOTHER recipe for mini king cakes that involved CINNAMON ROLLS. At that moment, I was hit by a stroke of genius.
I decided to the elements I liked best about each recipe and combine them into one, inspirational dessert. I took safety precautions during the taste-testing portion of my experiment…I had my boyfriend try one. He said it tasted “damn good”, and he wouldn’t lie to me. (Seriously, he would be the first to tell me if it sucked, I promise).
I like this dessert so much, I need to share it with all of you. The recipe is easy, inexpensive and took me all of 45 minutes to complete from start to finish, including pre-heating the oven! This is a great recipe for a fun breakfast or a tasty dessert.
Because this recipe is technically my own, I took the liberty of naming it. May this be the fattest Tuesday yet.
PURPLEY/GREEN/GOLD CINNAMON THINGS
(aka MINI KING CAKES)
– 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 1 tsp lemon juice (or 1/3 of a fresh lemon, squeezed)
– 2 packages cinnamon rolls
– Sprinkles (I chose yellow and green in honor of Mardis Gras)
– 1 container frosting (15.6 oz is the size I chose, and I had some leftover)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray baking sheet/pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Blend (or mix well with a spoon) cream cheese, powdered sugar & lemon juice.
3. Remove cinnamon rolls from container. Use fingers to pinch and form a hole in the center of each cinnamon roll.
4. Put cream cheese/powdered sugar/lemon juice mixture in the center of each cinnamon roll.
5. Bake 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Take out of oven and let cinnamon rolls cool for 5 minutes.
7. Decorate with frosting & sprinkles of your choice.
You may be wondering how I could’ve possibly messed up the first batch I made. Here’s how: I forgot to put the cream cheese/powdered sugar/lemon blend into the center of the cinnamon rolls before baking them. However, it simply prompted me to find another way to put these little wonders together! After the cinnamon rolls finished baking, I cut a circular piece of dough out of the center, placed the cream cheese mixture inside, put back the piece of dough I cut out and frosted over it to secure. Voila! Fixed. However, since the cream cheese mixture wasn’t baked, I refrigerated this batch. If your dessert sits over night, I suggest heating your purpley/green/gold cinnamon things up in the microwave for 10 seconds to make them deliciously melty and warm. Yes, melty. MINI KING CAKES FOR THE WIN.
Disclaimer: I’ve never actually made a king cake before, so I couldn’t tell you how closely my recipe or the ingredients in it mirror one. But the colors I decorated with are Mardis Gras colors. So I decided that counts.
It’s been busy in the receiving room at Mar-Lou Shoes. There’s a reason I’ve dubbed this room “box city”: In the short time I’ve been at Mar-Lou, I’ve witnessed the room where we receive all of our merchandise literally ceiling-high with shoe boxes – more than a dozen times. When box city fills up, my days revolves around taking images of new products, preparing the images for our website, writing descriptions, and uploading all of it to marloushoes.com.
While writing product descriptions this morning, I thought to myself how strange it is that all these “shoe terms” that once were so foreign to me are now a regular part of my vocabulary. It took time for me to get comfortable with and become somewhat knowledgeable about all these words I spout so frequently. Even now, I still have to look up what certain terms mean from time to time.
Everyone’s got stuff they know a lot about. Because of my line of work, shoe stuff is moving pretty high up on the list of “things I know”. (I really didn’t ever see that one coming, but I’m not complaining.) Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of shoe aficionado (yet). The list I compiled below is not your complete guide to every shoe term ever spoken or written about, however, it will detail some important, frequently used terms. These terms don’t apply to EVERY shoe ever created, but they do provide a working knowledge of basic footwear anatomy.
MAR-LOU SHOES’ ANATOMY
Material covering the entire outside of a shoe
Section of upper material that covers from a little behind the toe to just before the heel
Section of upper material that covers around the heel
Fabric covering the inside of a shoe (excluding footbed) – may help improve durability
ENTIRE part of shoe below the foot (body of shoes consists of an upper and a sole)
Layer between sole and foot (typically adds comfort, sometimes removable)
Bottom of shoe that makes contact with ground
Where the heel sits
Piece (typically of metal) that is found between the sole and the insole (shanks often hit the arch of the foot to provide extra stability)
Material that binds the upper of a shoe to the sole, comparable to a seam on clothing
American Express designated this past Saturday, November 27th, Small Business Saturday. This day serves as a reminder to show some love to small businesses in your area. Whether you show your support by being a customer, or encouraging your friends and family to shop local, every little bit helps.
Why should you, though?
We’ve all heard of the economic reasons you should support small businesses. Shopping local means you’re putting money back into your community: into the people, products, labor and time. These are all wonderful reasons to support small businesses and shopping local, but I have one that pertains directly to YOU, the consumer.
Being a part of Mar-Lou for almost six months now, I’ve gained a great respect for what my coworkers and other small businesses in the area do for those who shop with them. Excellent customer service isn’t simply a nice thought for us; it’s the core of small businesses.
When you shop local, you’re getting the ultimate customer service experience. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure you, the consumer, are happy. It’s not just that we “have” to go out of our way to make sure our customers have a fabulous experience with us, we want to go out of our way for you.
Speaking for myself, nothing makes me happier than when a customer exits our conversation happier than when they began it. Small businesses give great regards to the money our customers put towards us. Our bottom line isn’t money: it’s you, our customers. We truly would be nothing without you, and we appreciate and love your commitment to shop small.
Web/Social Media Administrator
Colorful, sporty, sleek – what’s not to love?
I’ve been doing some online shopping lately. Okay, more like A LOT of online shopping. I sink into my couch (actually, my bed) after a long day, pour myself a bottle of wine, and unleash the wrath of the web on my bank account. I do this for two reasons. One: I really like wine. Two: research purposes. No, I’m serious. It’s for research.
When I shop online, typically, it’s for convenience reasons. Some days, I want nothing more than to unwind, mindlessly browsing the internet searching for the perfect pair of boots or a nice, cozy sweater, because actually leaving my apartment and going to a store means putting on real pants. An added bonus: the World Wide Web makes it easier than ever to find the best deals.
Where does the research come in, you may be asking yourself? Let’s compare online shopping with writing research papers. I’m in my (second) last semester of college, and research papers are a topic I have become far too familiar with. It is drilled into every student’s head to check and re-check resources to make sure they are legitimate. Buying from an unreliable retailer can be a lot like using information from an unreliable website: the info might be legit, but there’s a significant chance it’s not quality.
I’ve been hunting for a comfy fall boot by a very specific brand. Browsing Google shopping, I notice the average price point for this specific boot falls right around the $150 range. There are a few dollars of variation, but nothing significant. Glass of wine in hand, a feeling of defeat befalls me. As a broke college student, $150 can buy me items I need far more than a new pair of boots.
All of a sudden, I see it… THE BOOT FOR $99!
I start getting excited. I quickly reel the excitement back in, because as a part of the retail industry, I know there’s probably an unfortunate reason this boot is $99. How can one company sell a boot for $99 when everywhere else is selling the same boot for $150? It doesn’t make sense.
So, I check my resources.
At first glance, the $99 boot looks exactly the same as the $150 boot. I click on the picture. The first thing I pick up on is this: on the websites I’ve seen this boot for $150, there are pictures displaying the brand’s logo. The logo is so visible it’s essentially yelling at you from the web page.
The website with the $99 version of the boot very artfully arranges the boot so the logo is never in the picture. I also notice the ridges on the bottom of the boot look off. I pull up a side by side comparison of the boot for $150 and the boot for $99, and notice the ridging on the underside of the boots are different. The more I look, the more I realize how different the two boots actually are.
Just out of curiosity, I choose a size and head to check out. Stipulations involving currency and additional fees appear in front of me from seemingly out of nowhere. In the fine print at the very bottom of the page, the sellers of the $99 boots have written a lovely message: “do not confuse with ___ brand boots”. As in, don’t confuse with the brand of boots I’ve been looking for the whole time. IMPOSTERS!
The problem is many less-than-truthful companies pull the wool over consumers’ eyes far too often. I’m guilty of paying more attention to quantity over quality when it comes to shopping on the web, but is the best deal worth the less-than-quality product you may be getting?
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Brands update styles frequently. There may be a particular high heel your favorite brand carries from last season that looks almost identical to the new high heel the brand came out with for the current season. The high heel from last season may be sold for significantly less money than the “updated” version of the high heel. Even though the two shoes look almost exactly the same, the newer version is probably going to cost more than last season’s shoe.
Another reason for price variation when online shopping: MAP. MAP stands for “minimum advertised pricing”. There is an immense amount of info and logistics involved in MAP. So much so that I could write an entire blog post detailing the topic. I do not want to bore any of us by writing such a post, so I will lay out the basics for you.
MAP is the minimum price retailers are allowed to sell a brand’s products online for. This keeps retailers, big and small, along the same price points to make online shopping as fair as possible. At times, larger retailers may take more of a risk and deviate more from MAP than smaller retailers. Basically, bigger retailers can afford to get away with more. Smaller retailers cannot afford the consequences that might come from deviating from MAP and upsetting a big-money brand.
As you can see, from new trends to shady retailers to MAP… A LOT of factors go into e-commerce pricing. The bottom line is this: let’s all make sure we are practicing SOS – Smart Online Shopping. As consumers, we must do our research. Always, always keep in mind: the “best deal” is not always the best deal.
Web/Social Media Administrator