Tim Talley is a native of Buffalo, New York, with an engineering degree from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Duke. He was in Tokyo as a professional trend spotter. That’s someone who identifies and makes predictions about developing trends; Tokyo is a hot spot of cool trends.
Tim saw a pair of black Puma sneakers in a store window with side stripes of four colors and laces in those same four colors. Too cool! That’s where he got the idea of the sneaker as canvas, the laces as paint, and the consumer as artist.
He originally founded U-Lace in Japan. The laces were named the No. 1 Hot New Trend product there. Then the earthquake and tsunami wiped out his distributor. He repackaged the laces for the US Market and moved back to New York.
U-Lace sells elasticized shoelaces that turn sneakers into a slip-on shoe, but the real appeal is the ability to create custom designs using a literally endless combination of colors and patterns. Just push the lace through the eyelet and pull to lock in place. It’s that simple. Which makes the laces ultimately practical, for instance, in getting through airport security, for special needs individuals, for doctors and nurses to get from nap rooms to their stations, and for skateboarders tired of fixing broken laces.