According to Laura Oden, most people have no idea how it feels to walk into a store and not find any shoes that fit. Oden said that was the case for her, starting as a teenager, when cancer treatments caused one foot to swell.

Laura Oden is CEO of Pandere

“I have had a chronic condition called lymphoedema, which is a chronic swelling, in one foot since I was 16,” Oden said. "So I spent my entire adult life looking for shoes to accommodate my swelling.”

In 2016 Oden teamed up with two other Alaskan women to brainstorm a company that could manufacturer shoes that would stretch to accommodate people with swollen feet. They called it Pandere, a Latin term that Oden said means to stretch, expand, unfold. In 2018 the company produced its first shoe for sale.

Pandere shoes have wider toe boxes that can expand three width sizes as well as elasticized panels that flex and bend. The company recently added an “Alaska Boot" to its line. She said the feedback from customers has been rewarding.

“Every single, solitary day somebody writes us an email that tells us how our shoes have impacted their lives,” she said.

Pandere shoes are available at the Alaska Walking Store in midtown

Recently, the shoes became available locally when the Alaska Walking Store in Midtown Anchorage starting carrying part of the Pandere line. Owner Cindy Holland said they’ve been good sellers.

Oden said it feels good to know that people with chronic conditions can find attractive shoes that fit.

“It’s a very deeply rewarding part of having started this business,” she said. If all goes well, the company also hopes to expand.

The shoes are available at limited retail locations across the country as well as on the Pandere website.

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