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Zip up your sneakers
Zip up your sneakers
Jerry Stefani, with a Zipz shoe

Zipz Shoes
Irvine, Calif.

In 2004, John Stefani was at a family reunion barbeque when the conversation turned to the massive number of dirt-caked children's shoes flung around. John's dad Jerry commented on how cool it would be to have an interchangeable shoe -- one where you could mix tops with bottoms and throw the dirty piece in the wash.

The idea stuck. John and his siblings left musing about mix-and-match footwear. They sketched shoes held together with Velcro, buttons, clasps and pins. After fiddling around drawing various prototypes, Jerry had the eureka moment: a zipper!

It took five years of development and three prototype iterations to bring Zipz to market. "With boots and things, zippers are pretty common place," John says. "Tennis shoe factories are not used to working with zippers."

In 2010, Zipz' first year of sales, the company grossed $1 million. The shoes, which retail for $45 a pair, are available online and through boutique retailers. Distributed in 40 countries, the shoes have drawn particular interest in Europe, Japan, and the Middle East.

Foot Locker will start carrying the brand in April, and 2011 looks to be "a far better year," says John, the company's CEO.

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LAST UPDATE: Feb 18 2011 | 11:53 AM ET
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