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Shoe Science

Houston Neuroscientist Brings Fashion and Functionality to Footwear

Article by Amanda Thomas

Photography by Courtesy of Steffie Tomson

Originally published in River Oaks Lifestyle

Since Steffie Tomson was a young girl, she’s always been interested in science. 

This curiosity led the 38-year-old Houston native to a career as a neuroscientist, studying how the brain and nervous system work. It’s also what led her to create her own line of shoes. 

A graduate of Rice University, Steffie earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine. Now she is a busy mom of two girls using her scientific knowledge to create fashionable and functional footwear for women on the go. 

She was inspired to design her own line of shoes after experiencing firsthand the struggles of walking from building to building in heels and then dealing with the pain that often came along with it. She was frustrated that she couldn’t find a shoe that looked stylish and would allow her to walk 10,000 steps a day without getting blisters or sore feet. 

Steffie knew there had to be a way to build a shoe that looks and feels good. So, she started researching all things related to shoe construction and design. 

“Unless we change what the heels are made of, our comfort level will never change,” she says. “So, I set out to design a heel made out of foam from top to bottom.” 

The result? 

Getaway Sticks — a line of elegant, versatile heels designed to keep you moving and stylish. 

The term “getaway sticks” was first used in the 1920s to describe legs. It eventually morphed into a way to describe women’s legs, so Steffie and her team decided to pick it up as a perfect representation of femininity and motion. 

“We started with a foam wedge and then built a beautiful shoe around it,” she says. “We ended up with a shoe that’s thoughtfully designed from start to finish, and I’m proud of what we have done.” 

Constructed entirely from athletic foam, the wedge shoes feature a wider toe box for wiggle room, soft suede that doesn’t rub, and an added strap for security. Steffie’s favorite feature is the buckle attachment, which includes a “secret hook.” 

“You can buckle the ankle strap to get it to whatever length you need,” she says. “But then, once it’s buckled, you slip it into a hook, and you’re done. This is a mechanism used in ballroom dancing and theater shoes for fast costume changes.” 

Steffie also limited the height of the shoe to two inches for joint health and stability. 

She launched Getaway Sticks in May 2021 and started selling them at local markets in Houston. 

“If a woman picked up our shoe and put it on, there was a 95% likelihood that they would buy it,” she says. 

Getaway Sticks are currently available for purchase online. The company offers free shipping and returns to make it easy for new customers to get started with its product line. 

The shoes come in a variety of colors, and new designs are coming in 2023, with the company expanding its product line to include a ballet flat next year. 

“If you buy one shoe, you will love it, and you’ll come back and buy it in five other colors because we have made a shoe that is comfortable and designed with women in mind,” she says. 

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