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Meet the Washington Mom Who Runs a Line of Affirmation-Covered Shoe Insoles From Her Living Room

The Bethesda-based Kickspos includes messages like "Boss" and "Yes, you can."

Kickspos founder Helen McPherson poses with insoles reading "You are a badass." Photograph courtesy of Kickspos.

What if you could literally step into a positive mantra or affirmation every day and carry it around with you?

That’s the thought behind the Bethesda-based Kickspos, a line of bright insoles for shoes emblazoned with inspirational messages. Each one comes with a cheerful design or a reminder like “You are a badass” or “Inhale, exhale,” which founder Helen McPherson writes herself.

She originally got the idea for the business last year when she was on maternity leave with her now 1-year-old son Mather (she also has a 5-year-old daughter Hazel).

“I was in our living room in Bethesda, and I was wearing sweatpants and just feeling very crummy and down in the dumps,” says McPherson. “I decided to write affirmations on pieces of paper and I stuck them in my shoes. I felt better, I laughed, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually amazing.'”

The idea for Kickspos was born. McPherson and her daughter made the first prototypes of the insoles out of paper and stickers, and shortly after, she decided to leave to leave her job as the head of operations at tech company Binary Fountain to make the entrepreneurial leap.

In January, Kickspos officially launched its first line. McPherson made all 1,000 insoles herself in her children’s playroom, which serves as Kickspos HQ.

“I’m sort of afraid my neighbors are going to find out,” says McPherson, laughing. “I’m bootstrapping, so I’m totally hustling.”

McPherson and her daughter Hazel at a recent Capital Pride pop-up. Photograph courtesy of Kickspos.

Her $19 insoles feature several designs, whether it’s a cheerful rainbow unicorn print or a message exclaiming “Do epic sh*t.” Each one comes as a women’s size 11, which customers can then cut down to fit their feet. They slide easily into most flats, sneakers, and heels, says McPherson, and, although the current design is meant for all genders, she plans to launch a larger size specifically for men’s feet soon.

And while McPherson originally came up with the idea as a way to escape the postpartum funk, Kickspos work for a variety of moments, she says, from launching a new business to making a big presentation.

“You think, ‘It says I’m a badass in my shoes,'” says McPherson of tackling those big challenges via Kickspos, “and your shoulders start to relax and you get that feeling of, ‘Oh, I can do this.'”

Plus, seeing a print of rainbow unicorns in your shoes every day is just pretty cool. “Fun is not to be ignored,” says McPherson. “Thinking ‘How can I incorporate more play in my life and not take everything so seriously?’ is a really powerful message.”

So what’s next for Kickspos? McPherson is currently designing a new line for September, and she’s started to do custom designs for things like weddings and corporate retreats.

And while Kickspos are only available online, she’s planning to host a pop-up at the Wags ‘n’ Whiskers event in Bethesda on September 27. Stay tuned for others in the works, too.

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Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.