Few months after having been introduced into the stores, pedicure became an integral part of customer service offered by the company Baťa in its stores.
Pedicure was seen not only as a part of care of one’s health, but also as a certain symbol of modern lifestyle and progressiveness. The company Baťa managed to communicate effectively with its customers. It successfully offered this service also to rural customers who did not desire the modern lifestyle but understood how useful this procedure is both for everyday life and for farm work.
Pedicure improved overall foot health, provided foot relief and thus also the shoes themselves rendered better service to the customers.
In addition to professional treatment, the company Baťa offered also a range of daily foot care products. Regular foot care was regarded a routine such as toothbrushing or bathing. To this end, the company Baťa offered a variety of foot care cosmetic products and aids; the cosmetic products included creams, powders, scented waxes and refreshing eau de cologne, while home foot care products included massage gloves and rubber massage brushes. The customer was advised to undergo treatments requiring sharp tools at a pedicurist in order to avoid the risk of injury.
The origin story behind the pedicure department was the same as with most of the department and branches of the company. Tomáš Baťa knew that the shoe quality is only one of the factors affecting foot health and that if people do not learn to take care of their feet, no shoe, no matter how good it is, will be good enough to ensure comfortable walking.
The beginnings of the existence of this department are associated also with another character trait of Tomáš Baťa – he sought how to put to good use the skills of competent people. Therefore, when he met MUC. František Kocourek in 1928, he allegedly said:“Well, what can we do with you being half a doctor, you could start the foot care department in our company.” We will probably never know whether this story actually took place or is only passed on in František Kocourek’s family.
The Thomas Bata Foundation has been recently contacted by Jakub Neradílek, the great-grandson of MUC. František Kocourek. He discovered a unique collection mapping his great-grandfather’s professional life in the company Baťa as well as an overview of pedicure development and pedicure training courses.
The collection contains rarities such as signature cards of famous people of the First Czechoslovak Republic who underwent pedicure treatment by MUC. Kocourek. We can find here the signatures of Oldřich Nový, Ladislav Boháč, Nataša Golová, Adina Mandlová or Lída Baarová. On multiple occasions, he also provided pedicure to Tomáš Baťa.
Apart from detailed digitalization of the archives of MUC. František Kocourek, we have also decided to prepare an exhibition presenting this unique story that links the personal life of one man with the development of a separate department of the company Baťa.
The exhibition Baťa's chiropodist was prepared in cooperation with the Museum of South-East Moravia and the Town of Zlín.
It contains a total of 16 exhibition panels providing information on the history of pedicure in Czechoslovakia and development of this occupation in the company Baťa. The visitors will be acquainted with individual procedures forming part of professional foot care. And last but not least, they will have the opportunity to learn the fascinating story of MUC. František Kocourek.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic measures prevented many visitors from seeing the exhibition in person, we have decided to prepare also an online exhibition.
We wish you a pleasant experience.
For the entire implementation team
Authors: Gabriela Končitíková, Hana Kuslová
Institutions: The Thomas Bata Foundation, Museum of South-East Moravia
Partners: The Town of Zlín
Exhibition graphic design: Andrea Kočicová
Web graphic design: Vladimír Parízek
Translation: Kateřina Novotná, Rosemarie Bata Blyth
We would like to extend our thanks to the family of MUC. František Kocourek and namely to his great-grandson Jakub Neradílek.