Oh our tireless, hardworking feet! Our other soles. The root of how we stand, hold ourselves and carry ourselves, our feet are two of our most hardworking parts. They are our anchor to this Earth and our tools for moving ourselves through life. Stretching, care and attention to our feet is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies. Recently, personal trainer Julia Chan shared with us the importance of paying attention to our soles in her informative post, Got Back or Hip Pain? Start With Your Feet First!
We are very proud of Stephanie Wong, one of SERENE’s earliest members, for going through with her vision of designing a product that brings vital relief and openness to such an important area of our bodies. With her product Reflexi Foot, Stephanie brings reflexology massage into your home, or on-the go. Specially designed to get into the tiny curves and muscles of the feet, you simply lay out your Reflexi Foot and start working your feet into the ridges of the product. Easy, simple, convenient. Working with the Reflexi Foot for even just five minutes a day per foot creates muscular miracles.
Erin: Tell us about yourself and how you came to create Reflexi Foot?
Stephanie: My background is in fashion and design. Since I was young, I always enjoyed the hands-on approach to life, and that is true today too, so I am constantly making things like jewelry and drawing and taking photos. I even began the process of starting my own fashion accessories company two years ago after being a finalist in a handbag design competition. Besides fashion, my other passion is health and wellness. I had several eating and food allergy problems growing up, which I eventually learned was a gluten intolerance, so now I try to live as much of a raw vegan lifestyle as possible. I also try to keep myself in shape with various workouts and yoga. My interest in this lifestyle, and the positive effect it had on me, lead me to get my certification as a yoga teacher and holistic health coach.
Three years ago, I brought my friend Terence, who is now my business partner, to get a foot massage. He had a plantar fasciitis so I thought he might appreciate the relief that I always got. He was skeptical but after the session he fell in love and told me that it felt like walking on clouds. He honestly would not stop talking about how great he felt. After that, we talked about developing a tool that could be easy to use in between sessions. Terence is an idea person but he didn’t know how to get started. With my knowledge and experience in design and product development we decided to team up to make Reflexi Foot. Fast-forward to today, and Reflexi Foot is a tangible product that we’re so proud of.
Have you always been an entrepreneur or had an entrepreneurial spirit?
I took a few entrepreneurship classes during my undergrad and was always interested in the idea of starting and owning my own business. Since then I’ve always kept up to date on all of the entrepreneurs I admired and kept a binder full of articles on start-ups.
Do you have any good “leaps of faith” stories you can share that happened while you were creating Reflexi Foot?
With the very first prototype we knew we were on to something. It was like all signs were pointing to ‘yes’. We were working with a master sculptor in a collective creative space. We had created the very first prototype; it was literally just out of the mould, when we had an encounter with one of the other artists in the building. He explained that he had severe foot issues all his life and would love to try our prototype. He had 4th degree flat feet, an extreme condition which even prevented him from joining the army. We sent him away with it because we were curious about what he’d think. He gave us amazing feedback, telling us that he wished we had made the product 20 years ago. That gave us a confidence to know that we could help a lot of people. We knew Reflexi Foot was special and we kept on working to perfect the functionality and design.
Overall, I learned a lot of life lessons throughout the journey of developing the product from other entrepreneurs. I also learned a lot from Terence, my co- founder. He has a strong drive and a clear focus which is inspiring and pushed us to keep on perfecting the product and getting it to where we are now!
Why is Reflexi Foot such an important product?
Our feet take so much from our every day lives, and the Reflexi Foot helps relieve the stresses and counter balances all the damage we do in an easy way.
First of all, we want to create awareness for foot health. From talking to many podiatrists and researching, there is a lack of education around taking care of our feet. For example, we learned that wearing the wrong shoes is the number one reason why we have foot issues. We’ll be launching a blog where we’ll be featuring articles to educate people on how to prevent issues related to foot stress.
Our main goal in designing Reflexi Foot was to make a product that people will actually use on a daily basis. It’s a huge challenge. Think of all of the health and fitness products we buy, and how many of them do we actually use on a regularly. Reflexi Foot is easy and fits into our lifestyle, which means that we don’t need to make extra time or put extra effort into taking care of our feet. For example, you can use Reflexi Foot while brushing your teeth, or watching TV, or working at your desk. How easy is that? All you have to do is put your feet on it and move your feet over it with whatever level of pressure you prefer. Imagine getting up every day and massaging your feet first thing in the morning. It feels great!
When you think about it, it makes sense that our feet require stretching and regular exercise, just as the rest of our body does, but how often do you really remember to dedicate time to your feet in your workout regimen? Instead, we hear about insoles and other quick fix gadgets, which are like Band-Aids and only temporary relief. In order to really heal your feet, you need to stretch and exercise them. That’s where Reflexi Foot shines. Its unique design makes stretching and exercising your feet easy and fun. And this is the very reason we get a lot of attention from the professional community because currently people are using tennis or golf balls for that. Balancing a foot on these balls is awkward and just not that inspiring. We also have several videos for various stretches and exercises.
It doesn’t stop there though; we are taking it even further. We are working with doctors, physical therapists, trainers, and various other professionals to integrate Reflexi Foot into other stretches and exercises. You’re already on your feet and moving so why not do more exercises while you use it? One cool, unexpected exercise came from Dr. Chris from Herald Square Chiropractic. He places 2 Reflexi Foot upside down and stands on them. He showed me the exercises last week, and it was quite challenging. The asymmetrical design of the wave makes it really fun though. You can do squats or cable pulls. There’s more and we’ll definitely be releasing the videos soon.
Where do you see your team, the product, and the company going?
Honestly, right now, we just want to see Reflexi Foot succeed in the market. We can’t believe how this small idea has taken us this far already, though. We just got a doctor’s recommendation from Dr. Emily Splichal, who is a Podiatrist, Human Movement specialist, and the founder of Barefoot Workout and EBFS in New York. She promotes barefoot workout and has appeared on many TV and publications such as Oprah, Doctors, Dr. Steve, ABC, Elle, and Woman’s Day to name few. She is big in the foot health community and we were very excited when she tried the product and loved it enough to recommend it to her patients.
Currently, we are running an Indiegogo campaign to take pre-orders for the product, so we are putting all of our energy into making it a successful campaign. Once it’s introduced to market, we’re confidant that many doctors and physical therapists will carry Reflexi Foot for their patients.
Based on what we saw, we believe that one day every household will have Reflexi Foot because it’s a product most people can benefit from and will see how much they need once they use it. Think about how sore your feet get from walking, running, or standing. What can you do about it? Probably not much since there is no product for us to use on daily basis. Reflexi Foot will change that.
Starting a business often takes a lot of time and energy, often unhealthily so. How do you balance working, personal and social life?
Taking time to enjoy my meals. Quiet time, meditation, drawing, and hanging out and laughing with friends.
What are some of your favorite ways or rituals of taking care of yourself?
Some ways I relax and take care of myself involve using essential oils, sitting in a sauna, getting a scalp/head massage, using the Reflexi Foot every day, yoga, biking along the Hudson River, and walking/hiking in nature.
Any favorite wellness gems of NYC you can share? (Restaurants, spas, great practitioners, cafes, etc.)
I love Bikram Yoga Herald Square! It’s the only Bikram studio I love, really. Their tranquil space and décor calm me instantly and they also have Malin & Goetz shampoo & conditioner. Lauren Bassett’s power Vinyasa yoga classes and boot camp are also amazing. Jessica King, who is a spinning instructor at Peloton in Chelsea, has gotten me into spinning. Her energy is contagious and she makes working out fun! Exhale Spa’s Core Fusion Barre classes are also a favorite for getting a toned, flexible dancer’s body.
Any advice you can give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If anyone ever came to me looking for advice in starting their own business I’d tell them to invest in themselves and always be open to learning more. Ask questions and for the opinions of others you trust, but go with your gut as well. Make lists of things you want/need to do and goals you have. Take classes in things that interest you and learn new things! Be open, spontaneous and brainstorm when it comes to solving problems. Sometimes a different perspective can make a world of difference!
Pre-order the Reflexi Foot and help support Stephanie’s fundraising campaign at IndieGoGo