Since moving to New York from comparatively mild-weathered Seattle, where it almost never snows and where the longest you'll typically have to walk is the distance to your car, figuring out what shoes to wear has become the bane of my winter existence. A reluctance to shell out for practical snow and rain boots has led to many slips, evenings of wet feet and ruined pairs of shoes I really shouldn't have been wearing in the first place.
Enter Mynxx, a fresh-to-market product launched by a Miami native who faced a similar dilemma. Mynxx, a portable, removable rubber accessory that adds traction to most flats and boots, encourages us ladies to wear whatever impractical shoes we want when it snows. "It was New Year's Eve and I was heading out with friends, one of us slipped and we all ended up falling," explained founder Veronica Barrow. "I grew up in Miami, so coming to New York as an adult and having to navigate snow for the first time, it allowed me to observe it objectively."
At the time, she was working at an architecture firm, but figured this sort of thing must happen all the time, so she sketched some ideas down, put that sketch book away, and took it back out in early 2012, after her architecture firm fell victim to the recession. She funded the early development of the product herself, and took two small commercial loans this year to get it off the ground. She also worked with the Tory Burch Foundation, which provides funding to female entrepreneurs.
The concept of Mynxx isn't entirely original. Ice grips for shoes have existed for some time, but they're all marketed towards men and outdoorsy types, and are made to fit more substantial, utilitarian shoes like sneakers and hiking boots. "They seemed very heavy and clunky, not very visually appealing," said Barrow. "When I saw that there was nothing available for someone like me on the market, I realized I wanted to develop it to appeal to a young, metropolitan professional."
A young, metropolitan professional myself, I decided to try them out. Conveniently for my trial, it snowed on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so I strapped on my pale pink Mynxx over a pair of thin-soled black leather loafers from Topshop and set out for a walk around my Brooklyn block. The snow didn't really stick, but the sidewalks were covered in a thin layer of slush. When I went out later in a pair of (what I thought were) practical New Balance sneakers, I was surprised how slippery the ground felt compared to when I was wearing the Mynxx, and I felt very much in danger of falling.
There were pros and cons:
The pros: They were super easy to put on and felt completely secure once they were on. They took a second to get used to, but once I started walking a bit, I felt totally comfortable. Walking through the slush was a breeze -- it felt as if I was walking on dry sidewalk. I did not fall, nor did I feel like I was in danger of falling.
The cons: I felt a little silly, probably because I was wearing pink rubber things over black shoes (they also come in black, which would have been better). Taking them off was a bit unpleasant: They come with a handy nylon pouch to stash them in once you arrive at your destination, but when I took them off, they were wet and covered in dirt and leaves, so my hands got kind of gross and I can imagine the bag getting gross after a few wears. Another drawback: They only work with flats, not heels. Granted, I'm not sure it would be possible to engineer something like this for a high-heel.
Also, my feet still got cold and wet, because obviously. It was rain/snowing and I wasn't wearing boots. The verdict? They serve their purpose, and at $38 are pretty affordable. If you live somewhere it snows a lot and don't like wearing snow boots, and also don't like falling, it's worth considering. You can shop Mynxx online starting Friday (Barrow plans to wholesale soon), and while some products are only available for pre-order, you can grab a gift card if this sounds like a perfect holiday present for someone you know.