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When Jack Guze surveyed the world of women's shoes a couple of years ago, he saw a gap and decided to fill it.

The decision didn't come out of nowhere. Guze has been a shoe guy for nearly 40 years. Back in 1980, Dayton's recruited him from Macy's in New York to manage its Nicollet Avenue store, and later promoted him to run the company's shoe  division. Part of his job was predicting trends to determine which footwear made it to Dayton's shelves. When he left, he took his skills worldwide, building international supply chains for brands including Reebok and Payless.

Guze eventually struck out on his own with a business called Creative Sourcing Solutions. He describes the work as "playing matchmaker between production in India, China or Mexico with American brands like Calvin Klein or Macy's."

In fact, it was seeing how a particular Mexican factory approached waterproofing that led him to think about traditional bulky rain boots and create his new offering. "The factory has a unique textile coating process they add to the shoe, so we can get boots that look and feel like suede while being perfectly waterproof," Guze says.

He launched Wet Knot in October with two styles. "Our message is 'an umbrella for your feet,' " he says. "We made a boot that marries fashion and utility that you can wear rain or shine."

Light and comfortable — our testers say they feel like a pair of Keds and are perfect for commuting — the boots are both stylish and practical.

"I think that Minnesotans in particular are savvy customers who will appreciate that marriage," Guze says.

— Bruno Povejsil

Wet Knot

Waterproof and stylish women's boots for all types of weather. $89-$109 plus tax and shipping.