Nursing a grande mocha latte in Starbucks after a frustrating hour of shoe shopping, Lucy Beard had an epiphany: Why was her coffee more customizable than her footwear? She decided she could do better. Four months later, the Zynga and Intuit veteran started Feetz, the first company to offer customized, fully 3-D–printed shoes for everyday wear. Due to launch early next year, Feetz remakes every step of the cobbler business. The company’s app translates photos of customers’ feet into virtual 3-D fit models. Users then select their color and style from among five offerings, including a Cubist flat and a street shoe with a Flyknit-like weave. Within 24 hours, Feetz’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory prints the footwear from TPE, a rubbery material common in shoe soles. Initially, Feetz will cost between $200 and $300 a pair, though Beard expects to halve that once the process is streamlined: "We see 3-D printing not just as something to use to prototype, but as the basis of a new manufacturing system."
A version of this article appeared in the November 2015 issue of Fast Company magazine.