BILLY Footwear offers a unique, innovative zipper closure that is both fashion-forward and adaptive-friendly

BILLY Footwear offers a unique, innovative zipper closure that is both fashion-forward and adaptive-friendly

Back to school with BILLY Footwear

As kids head back to school in new shoes, a unique footwear design developed here in Washington continues to gain popularity. BILLY Footwear offers a unique, innovative zipper closure that is both fashion-forward and adaptive-friendly. Both children and adults have embraced the easy-to-wear style.

Adaptive apparel is designed for people with physical disabilities or limited dexterity, who may have trouble dressing or manipulating closures like shoelaces, but kids also benefit from the zipper fastening design. According to the CDC, nearly 14 percent of adults have a mobility-related disability, yet mainstream retail has been slow to provide fashion forward adaptive options. Washington native co-founders Billy Price and Darin Donaldson have aimed to change this by developing an inclusive shoe design with universal appeal.

An Idea with Sole

Shortly after attending the University of Washington in 1996, Price fell out of a three-story window and broke his neck, paralyzing him from the chest down. The lack of options in adaptive footwear left him with the choice of wearing unfashionable Velcro or needing assistance putting on laced shoes. He wanted shoes that he could put on independently with his limited mobility, but that were still fashionable enough to enjoy wearing.

In December of 2011, Price pitched an idea to his friend Donaldson, who happened to be working on a shoe project of his own. With the idea in mind, Donaldson created an illustration that later led to a physical prototype. When the prototype was presented to Price, it marked the first time Price was able to put his shoes on by himself in eighteen years. The moment was so special, the two knew they had to share their design with the world. BILLY Footwear was born.

Darin Donaldson and Billy Price, Co-founders of BILLY Footwear

Darin Donaldson and Billy Price, Co-founders of BILLY Footwear

While zippers on shoes are not a new concept, using a zipper to completely expose the footbed was a revolutionary step forward in accessibility. When the shoe is unzipped the upper half of the shoe folds over, allowing the wearer unobstructed entry to set their foot down on the insole. If the shoe has laces, they can be tightened to adjust the fit. Once you have that perfect fit, you leave the laces tied and use just the zipper to take the shoes on and off.

Adaptive zipper closure design for both kids and adults.

Adaptive zipper closure design for both kids and adults.

When the Shoe Fits

The initial success of the shoes encouraged BILLY Footwear to continue to expand their business so they could reach more people who could benefit from the design. They had previously tried to get an SBA loan without success, but as their business began demonstrating a continued growth trajectory, they needed a banking partner who could help them facilitate the loan.

“The market for these shoes was there,” explained Price. “We needed a loan to expand our product line and get it out into more of the marketplace.”

“We were impressed with their innovative product and solid business plan,” recalled Jason Gill, a senior commercial relationship manager at First Fed. “It’s a pleasure to help local PNW businesses get the funds they need to continue to grow and succeed in new markets.”

With the additional funds, BILLY Footwear was able to expand their product line and move into a larger warehouse to accommodate the volume of shoes needed to meet current demand and have room to grow. As demand for the shoes has continued to grow, they have future plans for a second location in the Midwest to be able to ship inventory faster.

“Jason and the team at First Fed have been incredibly supportive throughout this process,” added Price. “It was refreshing to build a relationship with a banker that felt like a friendship, instead of the revolving door of people you work with at most banks.”

BILLY Footwear was recently featured in First Fed’s First Checking campaign, which demonstrates the shoes in action.

A Fashionable Foot in the Door

BILLY footwear made a splash on the big screen when their red sneakers were featured in the blockbuster film Ghostbusters Afterlife. The adult version is sold out, but kids’ sizes are still available.

This past summer BIILY footwear was approached by Zappos to create an exclusive shoe design commemorating the 2022 Special Olympics, which they sponsored.

BILLY Footwear sneakers designed for the 2022 Special Olympics

BILLY Footwear sneakers designed for the 2022 Special Olympics

“We had a lot of positive feedback on our colorful sneaker for the Special Olympics. The only issue was that people wanted it in adult sizes, and this design is only available for kids,” explained Price.

Being fashion-forward was always important to the BILLY Footwear team, so their shoes could be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their physical ability. Both kid and adult styles come in a range of colors, patterns, and designs that are as fun to wear as they are functional. From sneakers to snow boots, their range of styles offers something for everyone.

“We want people who wear BILLY Footwear to feel trendy and confident,” explained Price. “You should not be forced to choose between fashion and function. Our goal is to create and offer shoes that everyone wants to wear—rooted in universal design and inclusion—that can accommodate all audiences. Those that need the function are empowered. But let’s be honest, everyone loves a convenient shoe.”

BILLY Footwear shoes can be purchased through their website: billyfootwear.com

First Fed is a member FDIC and equal housing lender.

The news and editorial staff of Sound Publishing, Inc. had no role in the preparation of this post. The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored post are those of the advertiser and do not reflect those of Sound Publishing, Inc.

Sound Publishing, Inc. does not accept liability for any loss or damages caused by the use of any products, nor do we endorse any products posted in our Marketplace.

More in Local Marketplace

Along Washington’s 3,200 miles of shoreline, roughly 70,000 residents are employed in maritime, making it an important economic driver for the region.
Meet the ‘Fish Bankers’

The maritime industry is woven deep into the history and culture of… Continue reading

Dani Rice was paralyzed in a routine medical procedure: “Now thanks to WA Cares, we have more options. We both put in a little from our paychecks now, and WA Cares will pay for a home care aide, when we need one.”
You Never Know What Will Happen. WA Cares Gives Peace of Mind.

Chances are you or someone you love has experienced what it’s like… Continue reading

As a full-time student and parent of two, financing his education was the most significant barrier Jeremy Buggy faced. Thanks to PC Foundation scholarships and his own hard work, Jeremy’s nursing degree is now nearly complete.
‘Working in healthcare has already been a rewarding and fulfilling choice.’

Thanks to Foundation scholarship, nurse Jeremy Buggy will soon be helping patients on the Peninsula

With a financial checkup, your financial advisor can help you assess where you are now, where you want to be, and how you can get there. First Fed photo
Scheduling Your Annual Financial Checkup

Scheduling an annual doctor’s appointment is common practice, but your finances could… Continue reading

Jim Morrell, CEO of Peninsula Credit Union.
Peninsula Credit Union offers big benefits amid rising inflation + interest rates

Community-focused approach helps members find place of greater financial well-being

Volunteers at the Market. Photo courtesy of Port Angeles Food Bank.
Holiday Donation Match for PA Food Bank

A meal can be easy to take for granted. But in Clallam… Continue reading

Jessica Bond enrolled in the Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics Program at Peninsula College and now works in IT Support Services.
Breaking into the tech industry with Peninsula College

By Jessica Bond After my husband and I got married in June… Continue reading

The experts at Kristin Manwaring Insurance have tips and guidance to help you choose the health insurance plan that’s right for you.
Choosing the right health insurance plan made easy + tips on important changes

Port Townsend team of insurance experts has your best interest at heart

First Fed-PiggyBank. Stock photo
The Gift of Savings: Smart money habits 4 kids

Enjoy a bonus welcome gift when you open a kids savings account this holiday season

Laurel Place is hosting a grand re-opening on Nov. 19 to celebrate the completed construction of their Memory Care wing. Visit for refreshments, raffle prizes and complimentary tours!
A Caring Place place to call home, right here in Port Angeles

When living at home is no longer an option, come home to a Caring Place

With over 84 years experience, the team at Kristin Manwaring Insurance is committed to their clients and the community.
When it’s time for insurance, remember the ‘Three Es’

Choosing the right insurance can be extremely complex: How do you enroll?… Continue reading