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Foot Soldiers 

Beth Lachin opened Foot Solutions (3213 17th St., 17th Place Center, Metairie, 833-3555) to help people win the battle against pain from the ground up. Often, she says, pain in the feet, knees, hips and even the back can be greatly alleviated simply by wearing the right shoes.

The 7-month-old store not only sells a range of dress, work, casual and athletic shoes that are healthful for your feet but it also makes orthotic insoles customized for each person's foot and lifestyle.

"We create foot problems for ourselves because we walk on hard surfaces and we don't accommodate our feet well," Lachin says. "People also don't take into account that certain shoes can actually be damaging."

To make the insoles, Lachin's crew takes a topographic image of the bottom of each foot -- the right is often very different from the left -- using a computerized digital scanner when the foot has no pressure on it. Another machine detects pressure points, bone protrusions, how weight rests on the foot, and the person's center of gravity when standing. Finally, they watch the person stroll barefoot to determine how their body and feet move when walking. By combining the results of these three examinations, Foot Solutions can customize an insole that accommodates the special aspects of a person's feet and alleviates discomforts caused by them. The process can take from 15 to 45 minutes.

"It's completely external, totally non-invasive," Lachin says of the insoles. "It's just manipulating the feet and ankles. It's just getting you back to the way God intended you to stand on your feet."

The insoles and shoes sold at Foot Solutions are helpful to those who just have achy feet as well as people with more severe problems such as bunions, complications from diabetes, hammer toes, corns and calluses, high arches, flat feet and more.

"It's very rewarding when people come in and they don't have a sense of why their feet hurt so bad and we can help them," Lachin says. "We try to educate them as to how to have healthier feet, how to be happier on their feel and how to dress their feet. Often it's a revelation to them.

"Shoes are the only article of clothing I can think of that can really hurt your body." Some foot problems, such as bunions, are largely hereditary, while others can be caused by injury, ill-fitting shoes and other factors. Some customers don't have foot problems, per se, but just have a hard time finding the right fit because their feet are very wide, very narrow or oddly shaped. Others just want to buy shoes that are good for their feet, while some have had special insoles made elsewhere and come to Foot Solutions to find attractive shoes the insoles can fit into. "The shoes I sell come with removable insoles that are comfortable on their own, but you also can take them out and slip in your custom orthotic insoles," she says. That's important because not all shoes allow for the extra bulk of an insole.

Putting Your Best Face Forward
Makeup application, eye brow shaping, lash lengthening and all kinds of pampering products are available at the new BGD Makeup Artistry and Beauty Bar (2137-A S. Carrollton Ave., 427-1169), which held its grand opening last month.

Named for owner Brandy Gomez-Duplessis, BGD offers wedding packages (with makeup and hair styling) for brides and their maids, makeup applications for special events, plus trendy body products, candles, handbags, scents, jewelry and even picture frames.

Appointments are recommended for services. Special promotions include brow shaping for $10 on Mondays, eyelash treatments for $10 on Wednesday and makeup and martinis on Fridays. That includes two martinis and a basic makeup application for $35 or martinis and a full makeup application with lashes for $45.

Dressing Well
The Ladies Store at Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666) will host a special trunk show with shirt maker-to-the-stars Craig Taylor from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 7.

Taylor uses innovative colors, fabrics and textures in his ladies' blouses, which are sewn by hand and finished with Austrian mother-of-pearl buttons. Among his customers are actresses Demi Moore and Susan Sarandon and supermodel Christie Brinkley.

Shopping Through the Ages
When consumers think about shopping, what often comes to mind are large chain stores that sell nationally advertised clothing, home furnishings and other products at malls, shopping centers and through the mail. Louisiana consumers once, however, depended on locally owned and operated stores in New Orleans and the smaller towns across the state.

The stories of these businesses and their successes or demises are detailed in a new book, Canal Street and Beyond: Louisiana's 20th Century Department Stores, written by historian Brian J. Costello of New Roads. The book is $15.50 and is available from Satterfield's Main Street Market (110 E. Main St., New Roads, LA 70760, 225-638-5027). Mail orders are accepted.

click to enlarge Foot Solutions owner Beth Lachin demonstrates - how a computerized scanner analyzes the - topography of a person's sole as part of the process - making a custom orthotic insole for their shoes.
  • Foot Solutions owner Beth Lachin demonstrates how a computerized scanner analyzes the topography of a person's sole as part of the process making a custom orthotic insole for their shoes.
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