(innovator, designer, Founder of DesignBox, Founder of Gamil Design and Lyf Shoes)
Aly Khalifa is the owner of DesignBox and the original co-founder of SPARKcon, Raleigh’s largest creative arts festival.
Like Sarah Powers, Aly has done amazing things for the city of Raleigh and more specifically, its art community.
With so many accomplishments, here’s a quick rundown:
- Director of Innovation and Co-founder, DesignBox
- Co-founder, SPARKcon
- Co-founder, Gamil Products and Design known for the Teastick and the Impress Coffee Brewer, which were acquired earlier this year by Seventh Generation
- Co-founder, Lyf Shoes
- The third-ever fellow of AIGA Raleigh
- Grammy award nominee for the deluxe package for the David Byrne/Bryan Eno project: “Everything that Happens Will Happen Today”
- US Patent & Trademark Office: 24 patents awarded. Several more pending
- And his work has been exhibited in the Louvre
That’s an incredible list when you consider these individual accomplishments, as well as the number of jobs and the volume of attention it has brought to Raleigh.
Aly’s success is based on an uncanny ability to balance being both left and right brained. He is amazingly creative, while also having the ability to get down to business and get things done.
For instance, consider his latest venture with wife, Beth, called Lyf Shoes. It is a sustainable shoe manufacturing company that utilizes 3D printing and operates in downtown Raleigh out of the DesignBox office.
Said best on their website:
“By virtue of unique and patented product engineering, Lyf eliminates the ovens, adhesives and massive labor requirements typical of the industry. The shoes are assembled on demand—ideal for intimately meeting consumer needs with the lowest carbon footprint possible. By leveraging a decentralized manufacturing model, Lyf removes the barriers of entry and paves the way for microenterprise development across the world: as a way to incorporate indigenous textiles in rural villages to offering custom prints to being a gateway to digital manufacturing.
Incenting consumers with a buy-back program, Lyf pioneers ‘Symmetrical Manufacturing’ whereby each assembly facility also disassembles product, sending components back to OEM manufacturers, creating the industry’s first “closed loop” shoe. LYF also utilizes a clever digital capture device that tracks biomechanics and builds user profiles. This allows Lyf to identify user needs, refine their product over time, and ‘close the loop’ with consumer retention.
Lyf Shoes is a company dedicated to making footwear for a better planet. All of us in the footwear industry know that we have a lot of environmental, health, and production challenges. By rethinking the process of how shoes are made and sold, we have found a unique opportunity to integrate job creation, customer service and sustainability into a new paradigm. We’ve got a great patent in hand and a stellar team putting it to work.”
Even more powerful are the benefits they highlight:
“Imagine a custom shoe made in 15 minutes with your fashion choices.”
“Imagine shoes that learn, with embedded electronics, so the next pair can fit even better.”
“Imagine shoes that need never see a landfill… like, ever.”
That’s an amazing fete.
A custom designed and built shoe that learns and is never disposed of. Basically, Lyf Shoes will actually buy your old pair back from you for use for a new and improved shoe based on what the shoe learned about you or it can be reassembled into a new shoe for someone else.
And while that might seem something out of a science-fiction novel, realize that Aly and his team have done this before with the Teastick and the Impress Coffee Brewer. New inventive products that utilize emerging technology is their competitive advantage. And as someone who constantly dreams up new concepts and products, someone who has been successful not once, but now three times is truly inspiring.
Even more inspiring though is that Aly continues to live, work and play in Raleigh. With his credentials, experience and success, he could easily pack up shop and head to one of the nation’s much larger entrepreneurial hubs. But yet, he and his family continue to embrace and help grow our great city. He embraces what it has to offer with helping to drive and create what it needs for the future.
I hope to someday do the same.
Aly, it has been a pleasure to know you. It has been far too long since we spoke, but thank you for everything you have done for Raleigh, its entrepreneurs and its arts community.
You, your work and your never ending pursuit of that next great idea continue to inspire me.