Thanks to my lifelong aversion to shopping and equally long love of a really good story, I now own a pair of the world’s most comfortable shoes.
And I owe it all to Humans of New York.
One day, while waiting for a slowpoke, I sat in my car and idly scrolled. I nearly skipped over the HONY story I saw because it came in 11 installments. I read the first post, though, and spent the rest of the day checking my phone for updates. I found Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali’s story that compelling.
You should treat yourself to the whole thing, but I’ll summarize here. Born in Pakistan, Sidra yearned for an education and a career, but her parents had other plans.
“We are raised from a young age to believe that our purpose in life is to find and keep a husband,” she said.
So they made her meet her with matchmakers and discouraged her from any other pursuit. But Sidra stuck to her dream and eventually she and a shy friend named Waqas, whom she had met in a study group led by her aunt, began to take the first steps to achieving their dream.
They launched a social media management company, a challenging task in a country that had banned Facebook.
One day they met with a group of shoe craftsmen who initially had no interest in working with a woman, but Sidra stayed with them day after day learning everything she could about making shoes, while Waqas designed their website.
Fascinated by the process of handcrafting a shoe, Sidra convinced the shoemakers to collaborate on a project they called “Hometown Shoes” and they began making high quality dress shoes. They sold their first pair quickly but discovered that it would cost $120 to ship the $85 shoes.
So, they regrouped and eventually began seeing some success. In the midst of all this work, Sidra and Waqas married.
They came to America through T-combinator, a program that had launched companies like Air BnB and Dropbox, and although intimidated by their fellow classmates, they gave everyone in their program a pair of their shoes.
At the closing ceremony they were the only team that did not receive any funding. Even worse, not one person was wearing the shoes Sidra and Waqas had given them.
So, they started over, interviewed people, built prototypes and tested their shoe until they had the perfect all day casual shoe.
Of course I bought a pair. Who wouldn’t? I didn’t really even care if they were perfect, I just wanted to support two plucky Pakistani entrepreneurs.
The shoes came last week and I really love them. And there’s no real shopping involved! There’s only one style of Atoms so you only have to choose between all black, all white or black with white soles.
The sizing is cool because you can order different sizes for each foot (which I didn’t know when I bought mine) and they come in 1/4 sizes.
I don’t really pay attention to shoe styles. I just like to wear what feels good on my feet.
And, for a whole lot of reasons, I feel pretty good walking around on my Atoms.