Here’s the thing. I should be a bijillionaire (minimum) by now because I invented jelly shoes.
It was 1985 and I was an 8-year-old with a pressing style problem. I lived in a house with two substantial apple trees in the back garden that were used by my sister and I for a number of activities essential to the happiness and wellbeing of children; den frame, hammock support, shade for the ‘swimming pool’ we were definitely going to dig out every summer. Mostly though, the trees were climbed.
Like grubby blonde orangutans, we hoiked ourselves up into the branches of those trees every weekend and after school, scraping knees and bruising elbows, swinging down and trying to stay out of the kitchen window’s line-of-sight, where mum would occasionally appear to check we hadn’t broken our necks.
A dedicated follower of rah-rah skirts and crop tops, the footwear required for climbing trees failed to meet my fashion expectations. The androgynous black plimsolls that pummel the floors of school halls all over Britain just weren’t going to get Corey Haim’s heart pounding if he happened to swing by Fryern Close on his way to the premiere of Lost Boys.
So I designed a plastic shoe, which looked like a sandal but had the grip of a trainer. I even detailed in my early prototype sketches that the coloured plastic should be see-through, and I named my model ‘The Jelly Shoe’ – because the pink transparent material looked like strawberry jelly, obvs.
I can only assume that some thieving design mogul was lurking behind our apple trees that summer, pencil and pad poised ready to steal my awesome idea, because before I knew it everyone at school was wearing see-through sandals and showing off their new ‘jellies’.
How many times have you had the next BIG idea only to find that someone else actually went and did it already? My friend Lisa invented Yo Sushi apparently, years before Simon Woodroffe even picked up a chopstick. Twitter was an original concept by the woman who does my hair.
It suddenly occurred to me a couple of years ago that the people in my life are more than capable of breathing life into all these ideas, as long as we took getting paid out of the equation. I have a career in digital product and user experience design, my husband is a rather talented software engineer, and my good friend Dan is a graphic designer. What we really needed was a safe, creative space where we would commit to working as a team on any of our BIG ideas.
So after several glasses of wine and a Chinese takeaway, AppyLab was born. We have lots of fun making ideas come alive and one day, we’ll come up with the next BIG thing, I’m almost sure of it.