Local Company Makes Footwear for Healthcare Workers
When Bruce Todtfeld’s grandfather was nearing the end his life, Todtfeld spent a great deal of his days keeping him company in the hospital. And with that time, he couldn’t help but notice his surroundings.
“I didn’t realize how physical these jobs are,” Todtfeld says of watching his grandfather’s doctors. “All of these jobs, from a nurse to a tech, even a dietitian or someone who’s in environmental services, these people are active, physical, and the conditions they’re working under are very, very harsh.”
Todtfeld, who spent his career working at footwear brands like Timberland and Sperry Topsider, knew that mass market shoe options weren’t cutting it for the people he dubbed “athletes in scrubs.” He began interviewing people across the hospital about their footwear needs, then got to work on launching a Boston-based, healthcare-focused shoe company called Akesso, named for the Greek goddess of curing and healing.
Akesso’s shoes focus on comfort, support, resistance, and easy-clean materials, unlike typical sneakers. “If you think of a running shoe, it works really well outside on pavement or on dirt, but if you’re inside on a linoleum floor that’s wet, it’s not optimized for that,” Todtfeld says. “And then all the upper materials on those shoes just suck in any kind of liquid that they come into contact with,” a major problem in an environment rife with hazardous fluids.
The company currently sells six styles on its website, ranging from ballet flats to mules, all for roughly $90. It also partners with area hospitals like Boston Medical Center and Dana Farber Cancer Institute for on-site events.
Todtfeld says people from other physically taxing industries such as hospitality and food service are also beginning to purchase the shoes, but that healthcare will always be in Akesso’s DNA. “Being a local company, having access to some of the best institutions in the country, has been fantastic,” he says.