- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

Emma, an administrative assistant in San Francisco, looks awkward as she wobbles across the floor in a pair of high heels.

In steps Stephanie Simons, a Shoetube.tv host with tips for women who want to strut their stuff in stilettos. Her advice: Put your shoulders back, land on the ball of your foot, use your thigh muscles and walk placing one foot in front of the other.

“That’s what puts the swing in your hips,” she tells her pupil.

Shoetube, which goes live today, is an online video and networking hub devoted to the shoe-obsessed female. The site’s content runs the gamut from “how to” videos to sneak peeks at the latest shoe designs and spontaneous interviews with women on the street.

“Shoes are universal, women love them. They connect like nobody’s business,” said Bill Lattanzi, creative director at Powderhouse Productions, which produces Shoetube.

Shoetube, which relies on a permanent staff of four and several freelancers, promises to have new staff-produced video spots three days a week, as well as a daily clip that lets users know what’s new to the site. Users are encouraged to post their own videos.

The site also features an array of regular blogs devoted to different types of shoes, including: “Sinfully sexy,” “Chic comfort,” “Fun and funky,” “Fit and feisty,” “Shoes we love right now” and “ ’Sex and the City’ countdown.” Bloggers like Karina Timmel relay anecdotes and impart useful wisdom.

“Alternate your shoe choice and height from one day to the next, or from day to night. Wear a pretty ballet flat one day and romp around in your beloved platforms the next,” writes Miss Timmel, a size 7.5, on the “Chic comfort” blog.

Mr. Lattanzi said Powderhouse, which produces video for Discovery Channel, PBS and other outlets, wanted to find a project that would allow the company to “flex our fun muscles.” He said the idea came from a Boston social group called the Hello Stiletto Shoe Club, which hosts regular events that invite attendees to show off their shoes.

“A little bell went off in our heads,” he said.

The site takes advantage of online advertising opportunities with traditional banner ads as well as embedded text ads in its video clips: At the end of Ms. Simons’ tutorial were ads related to stretch marks, hybrid sport-utility vehicles and applying for a Pell Grant.

Users will also be able to shop at Shoetube, although Mr. Lattanzi said the site’s Boutique section probably won’t be live immediately. The site can function as a focus group for advertisers, he added.

“I think it’s good for them to see what people are saying about their shoes,” he said. But he stressed that site intends to keep advertising and editorial separate, since when it comes to shoes, “We need to be able to say if we don’t like them.”

Shoetube isn’t the only niche video channel that has sprouted in the wake of Google Inc.’s popular video site YouTube. On MyDogSpace.com, users rate each others’ videos — with “treats” instead of stars. FunnyorDie.com, devoted to humorous celebrity videos, this week is featuring videos of comedian Will Ferrell on the road.

“People are more inclined to go to a site that has video. It’s just more engaging,” said David Wadler, chief executive officer of Twistage, which provides and manages video platforms, including the ones for Shoetube. As for videos uploaded by users, “It’s a free way to get content. It certainly worked for YouTube.”

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