WHY I DECIDED TO CHANGE THE FACE OF ORTHOPEDIC FOOTWEAR
ELEANOR JOHNSON LEINEN
CEO/Founder & Executive Designer
WALK ANOTHER WAY
Eleanor Johnson Leinen is a on a very important mission. Since 2003, she has been, and continues to be, the woman who is helping preserve the health of women’s feet and save women from unnecessary amputations. How is she accomplishing this goal? Eleanor is, by profession, a designer, artist, author, spokesperson, and a woman living with type 2 diabetes. Being diabetic and having problematic feet, Eleanor always suffered from “fashion shoe envy.” After learning that she was diabetic, a friend asked her if she would be required to wear diabetic shoes. Eleanor knew nothing about such footwear so she scanned through the internet and the choices stunned her.
She did not find any shoes that were fashionable or trendy. In fact, the offerings were bulky, dowdy and in her mind down right monstrous! Her immediate thought was - how could a woman of style bring herself to pair any outfit with shoes that might brand her as “defective.” In addition, the more Eleanor learned about diabetes, the more she became aware of the serious, and rarely talked about health risks associated with wearing shoes that did not adequately protect the feet from life threatening and life changing injuries. Yes, it was time to turn lemons into lemonade and so Eleanor used her artistic skills and began to transform the face of medical shoes for private clients.
To her surprise, others were becoming aware of her efforts. In 2007, editors of MORE MAGAZINE and executives from Dove Beauty voted her one of the 10 MOST INSPIRING WOMEN OF THE YEAR” and in 2008, the SUN SENTINEL newspaper named her “ONE OF THE FOUR MOST NOTABLE PEOPLE OF THE YEAR”. 2010 - Warren Berger included her story in his book “GLIMMER….how design can transform your life, and maybe even the world”. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE and FOOTWEAR NEWS (FN) also took note and wrote articles about Eleanor’s new concept for orthopedic shoes.
In 2012, armed with a purpose, and inspired by letters from hundreds of women, medical professionals and a strong endorsement from the President of Drew Shoes (the premier medical shoe manufacturer), Eleanor launched her design house WALK ANOTHER WAY – the first wearable art couture footwear for women of all ages. Within a few months, the American Diabetes Association’s ( ADA ) premier publication DIABETES FORECAST devoted three editorial pages and part of their March 2013 issue’s cover to these stylish shoes. ENTERPRISING WOMEN MAGAZINE and numerous bloggers followed. In March 2013, Eleanor and her shoes became a featured segment on an NBC TV special “DIABETES: SILENT EPIDEMIC.”
In November 2014, Eleanor presented the keynote speech at North Shore University Hospital ’s Diabetes Awareness Day Month Day event. After speaking, the hospital presented Eleanor with the DIABETES INNOVATION AWARD, which she considers a true honor and a wonderful source of inspiration.
In December 2014, Footwear News’ Senior Editor Barbara Schneider – Levy devoted her entire column on the merits of WALK ANOTHER Way’s 2015 collection. In fact, during her interview (with Eleanor) this Senior Editor said that in her opinion Eleanor’s concepts and designs are revolutionizing the orthopedic footwear industry.
However, for Eleanor it all comes down to the happiness and health of her clients who are thrilled to have a fashionable alternative. The collection includes bold colors, exciting illustrations, unique graphics, and her 2015 collection ‘GOING GLOBAL” features a bevy of designs for eveningwear. All are waterproof and come in average and hard to fit sizes.
“I am thrilled whenever a client tells me that people stop and admire their shoes...and they never say are those orthopedic shoes!” However, Eleanor is also mindful of the millions of our friends, mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmothers…, and men that refuse to wear any kind of protective footwear even after doctors tell them that they must! Eleanor comments “Personally, I don’t care where they procure their shoes from…I just want everyone to save their feet from harm!”
The numbers of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetics are staggering so, Eleanor is determined to use every opportunity and every platform available to talk about this important issue facing more than 27 million Americans….and millions and millions around the world.
Eleanor Leinen is a former New Yorker who served as an Assistant Commissioner and Agency Director for Mayors Koch and Dinkins.
She taught at FIT for several years and has been a featured guest on more than 40 TV shows talking about her art and book UNIQUELY GIFTED.
She currently resides in Hollywood , Florida with her husband Stephen, a retired college professor and their lovable English Springer Spaniel – Emerald.