How often do you purchase a product, an item of clothing and think about where the idea or design came from? Who first thought about the concept? What drove them to create the end product?Let’s give a shout out to those in the minimal shoe business! Why? Well many of them came from small beginnings with a desire to create something better – better for their children’s and your children’s feet.

I’ve recently been away travelling – visiting my parents and two boys back in New Zealand.  On my way to NZ I stopped off in Melbourne and grabbed the opportunity to meet with the two crazy mums behind PaperKrane Shoes.  


Bernie with Zara and Kate

A little of their story. Kate kicked things off by sewing little booties herself, creating sock-like shoes that were both great looking and functional. Zara was one of her customers buying for her own children. They joined forces in 2015. You can read more about their story here

They definitely have put the FUN into FUNctional footwear – their motto ‘love of foot health without sacrificing fashion’

I first came across PK shoes when researching for my book ‘Finding Their Feet – Every parent’s guide to milestones and movement’. I was looking for which minimal shoe companies were out there providing footwear that was – foot shaped, flat, flexible and featherlight – for infants and kids. 

PK shoes in Cairo

What I love about Zara and Kate is that they are also doing good in the world. Despite them being a small player in the shoe game they have big hearts. Their ‘Soles with Soul’ styles, where the design of the uppers is created by local artists and celebrities. These limited edition kicks are then used to raise awareness and funds for important charities around the world. 

I love wearing my PK shoes and have taken them exciting places as I travel From Paris to Japan, Lebanon to Cairo! I don’t get anything in return – I just have fun wearing them. 

Whilst in Australia I purchased a pair of their Choco boots for winter and the Dhagun’s. They are so cool (and apparently a girl can’t have too many barefoot shoes!) What I like is that most PK shoes have the same sole structure. They haven’t moved from the need for it to be foot shaped, flat, flexible and featherlight – what PK refer to as the 4 F’s.


Vivos in Phoenix, Arizona

My very first pair of barefoot shoes were actually VivoBarefoot. Vivo had a different start – PAIN! A guy called Tim Brennan who kept twisting his ankle playing tennis, and also suffered from back pain. He was studying design and embarked on creating a pair of minimal shoes.  He had discovered that after some postural alignment work and being barefoot he was pain free. Tim met Galahad Clark (7th generation Clark, as in the shoe company) in 2002 and together vivo shoes were born.

Galahad eventually paired up with his cousin Asher Clark (after Tim went on to do his own thing). They bring us what we know of today with a wide range of shoes from toddler sizes to adults. You can read more of their story here I took these travelling too. Here I am atop a rock in Phoenix, Arizona. Now the story here is that wearing these while climbing I was so much more agile and faster than a couple in ‘normal’ hiking boots. Only to be overtaken by a mum and daughter – both barefoot!

(Climbing tip – wear footwear that does not restrict your ankle movement)

Like PK Vivo have kept their sole fairly standard – meeting the 4 F’s, where they have made changes is in the depth and pattern of the tread. I love my Tracker boots that I have several years and recently had re-soled by Vivo. Gotta love that for sustainability and maintaining a friendship!

I also have a pair of their black Geo Chelsea boots to dress up my look!  

Happy Little Soles

Now to Happy Little Soles and how they got started.  Happy Little Soles was founded back in 2010 in response to the frustration at the children’s shoes that were available in the high street. Kate’s younger daughter was struggling with shoes and balance and so she began to research other options. A path which eventually led her to the solution to Keala’s balance problems and to Happy Little Soles!  12 years later it still remains a family run business rooted in providing the best footwear options for all members of the family.

In addition to stocking PaperKrane and Vivo, Happy Little Soles stock a range of other footwear for winter online. Many from brands with great back stories and from small beginnings, embedded in family and experience:

Bundgaard – Small beginning from Denmark

Again has a nice family story of Thorvald Emil Bundgaard who acquired the shoe company. After the birth of his first grandchild decided to focus on designing great shoes for children. In recent years they have been aligning more with the minimal shoe industry in order to provide the best for children. Their range of barefoot wellingtons is unbeatable.

Stonz – Small beginnings from Canada

Established in 2004 by Lisa Will.  Lisa was struggling to find outdoor shoes for her infant son so set about designing some so that their adventures could continue. Her winter booties are not completely barefoot friendly but will provided protection and warmth, and stay on your child’s feet with the double draw string design.

Tikki – Small beginnings from Romania

You guessed it. Another family story from small beginnings. Maria and Adrian crafted their first shoes in 2008 for their first son. Read more here

Thank you to all from small beginnings

So we have many individuals to thank for their personal drive and passion. For creating footwear for all ages that is designed to be more foot-like than shoe-like, which is so much better for all our feet and overall health. 

I encourage you to spread the word about barefoot minimal shoes, for the health of all feet and in support of these people. 

Remember footwear is really designed for protection – limit use for that purpose and create a ‘FOOTWEAR-FREE ZONE at HOME’

For those heading into winter – Feet love jumping in puddles more than wellies or boots, they dry quicker and it feels great!

And you can’t beat a good dose of mud between the toes…..


Finding Your Feet by Bernie Landels

Finding Their Feet

Every Parents Guide to Milestones and Movement by Bernie Landels

A parenting book like no other, Finding Their Feet covers the journey from conception and the womb to the moment your baby finds their feet and walks.

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