Are you a nice Jewish boy and want more attention when you’re out at a bar? Perhaps you want a better chance at nabbing that new job? Well, you’re in for a rude awakening. It’s a sad fact of life that members of the tribe are known to be, well, on the shorter side. Why not own it?
That’s where Shoes by Jews comes in.
These stylish, height-increasing shoes stand out from the hoards of other options, with their light and stylish designs that can add up to 3 inches to your height. And with prices ranging from $122 to $199, they won’t break the bank.
Founder Shawn Michael, 33, of San Francisco says the idea for the shoes came to him and his Jewish friends when they were out at a San Francisco bar and they realized they were all 4 to 5 inches shorter than other men there. One joke followed on the heels of another, and before Michael knew it he was 3 inches taller and changing the game for his fellow vertically challenged brethren.
With researchers at the University of Florida finding that with every extra inch of height a man could increase his yearly salary by $789, along with findings from a Rice University and the University of North Texas poll that 55% of women preferred to date taller men, looks like Shoes by Jews is here just in the nick of time to make men average or even a cut above average.
The Forward’s Maia Efrem spoke with Michael about shoes, Jews and why there it’s time to stand taller.
Maia Efrem: How did this idea even come to you?
Shawn Michael: It started a few years ago. I was with my friends at a bar, and we were all single and Jewish and looked around and realized we were 4 to 5 inches shorter than all the other guys in the bar. We joked around that we need some shoes. The name “Shoes for Jews” went around as a joke.
One friend ordered some shoes from China and he was 3 inches taller. We were very impressed and we all started using them over the years, but because they were so bad, we decided to get together and start our own company.
What makes your shoes different from the other height-increasing shoes out there?
There is a hidden layer on the inside and most of them are made with wood, and they feel like you’re walking with bricks. You also walk funny because they weigh more, so you can tell from the outside but also because he walks funny because he’s walking with 3 extra pounds of weight. We made ours with a lighter material. It’s only .2 pounds heavier than the usual shoe.
And the style wasn’t good. Most of the shoes are made overseas and they are not really made for Western culture. They try to emulate a lot of the shoes that we wear, but it’s a really bad job. And because that was the only product available we had to use them.
What kind of reaction are you getting since the launch?
The reaction has been kind of insane. People really like the video, and they’re sharing it with everyone in the office. And then we have customers, and their reaction is amazing; they are ordering it for their wedding and really love it. They’ll order the shoe and love it, and they’ll order it for their dad. It has made this all worthwhile, and that’s the most important thing.
Do you think with your name, Shoes by Jews, you are cutting off a demographic of potential clients?
We took a gamble with the name; it sounds like it’s shoes for Jews by Jews. It’s not what we aim to do. The shoes are for everybody; it just happens that it’s a funny name. Our customers are 50% Jewish and 50% other demographic. Maybe it’s appealing to Jews because of the name.
The video is hilarious. Who is behind your ad campaign?
I wrote the script, and we are really good with humor and we grew up watching “Seinfeld,” and we really like the CollegeHumor videos and we contacted some producers that did videos for them, and they came through and this is the product.
Are these shoes the equivalent of what Spanx are for women?
A couple of people on Twitter called it “a push-up bra for guys.”
Which celebrities do you think could benefit from these shoes?
Most actors already use a version of these, so I don’t really know how short or tall they are.
Won’t co-workers notice when you walk into the office 3 inches taller?
The main point of the shoe was for dating; we made them when we were in the single scene to wear to bars and on dates. Women use accessories to look better, and we wanted something like that for guys. With makeup you can cover things up, and when you’re a short guy there’s nothing you can do about that.
When people started using the shoes, they decided they were good for interviews, too. It would be the same thing as when a woman who doesn’t wear makeup starts wearing makeup all of a sudden. Eventually people will get used to it.
Are you planning on coming out with new styles?
We wanted to see what our customers are looking for. We get questions about that all the time. We have a lot of questions from women regarding models for women. I would say three to six months to come out with more models.
This interview has been edited for style and length.
Maia Efrem is the former research editor and assistant to the editor and was also responsible for the Forward’s annual Salary Survey. Previously she served as the editor of Blognik Beat, a blog written by students who emigrated from or have ties to the Former Soviet Union. Maia is a graduate of Hunter College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.