There is nothing more adorable than a toddler with her shoes on the wrong feet…

Except maybe seeing the excited smile spread across her face when she gets ‘them right.’ All by herself.

Proud. Excited. Independent. That kind of empowerment is exactly what Baltimore mom and designer Ellen Lichtman wants all kids to feel.

coffee with ellen lichtman, shoezooz - (cool) progeny

Hello, Shoezooz. Animal ‘puzzle’ stickers that go in kid’s shoes to help tell left from right. The ‘head’ of the animal goes in the left show, and the ‘tail’ of the animal goes in the right. 

It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas, right? 

coffee with ellen lichtman, shoezooz - (cool) progeny

But having the idea isn’t the same as creating a product. As a graphic and web designer, Ellen knew exactly what she wanted the designs to look like. But the production process was more nuanced. 

“Finding the right quality sticker material was important,” said Ellen, adding that it took over a year to bring the product to market. Now carried internationally, they have been featured in everything from Creative Child Magazine to Oprah. Locally you can find the stickers at aMuse Toys.

Inspired by her then-preschool daughter Shoezooz, are proving to be extremely helpful for children and adults with special needs, those on the autism spectrum, or those who are visual learners. With this in mind, the packaging evolved to include hands-on activities and puzzles that build on the directional skills learned with the stickers. Ellen is now working on a web-based collection of resources to help parents, occupational therapists, and others.

coffee with ellen lichtman, shoezooz - (cool) progeny

coffee with ellen lichtman, shoezooz - (cool) progeny

The first designs were farm animals. Now there is a whole ‘zoo,’ including sea creatures, jungle animals, and birds. 

Ellen’s home is a lot like her Shoezooz designs — welcoming, modern with clean lines and pops of color. Eclectic and chic. Definite evidence of her background in architecture (she designed the space renovations herself). On the weekends you’ll find her cooking with her daughter Lilah (who’s now a teenager!). Coincidentally, Lilah may have caught the design bug, too. Ellen just got her a subscription to Dwell for her birthday. 
Want to learn more about Shoezooz and meet Ellen? She’ll be at our Superhero Social on September 10th!