Pamela Sparks has had her shoe in the podiatry field for more than a decade, but she's stepping out on her own to tackle a new feat.
The Syracuse woman has started her own mobile foot care concierge, SPARKS Podiatry, serving clients in Cayuga and Onondaga counties. She's always wanted to start her own business, and this endeavor, she said, is bringing back the old days when physicians made house calls.
"It was very individual, very caring, very comfortable for the person," Sparks said. "It's not new."
Some of her basic foot care services include completing a foot examination, trimming toenails, trimming corns and calluses, managing ingrown toenails, providing medical referrals for certain procedures and educating patients on healthy feet. Sparks said it's a good alternative to going to the salon, and it's also beneficial for people who may need transportation services to get to a doctor's office. Traditional hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, but Sparks said she's flexible and can work with clients to set up an appointment.
Sparks has big plans for her business, eventually hoping to open a practice that stays put while continuing the mobile component. She's certified in foot surgery through the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and is a 2003 graduate of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Prior to starting SPARKS Podiatry, she worked at the Auburn branch of Podiatry Services CNY on Grant Avenue. That position ended in November, she said, giving her the opportunity to dip her toe into a new kind of client pool.
Sparks laughed when asked about how she got into the podiatry field.
"Podiatry found me," she said. "I feel like some people are just destined to do certain things."
When she was 12, she'd take care of her grandmother's feet. Sparks laughed again, adding that her grandmother enjoyed it very much, and Sparks never found it weird or abnormal. She also thinks feet can be underappreciated. But as a support structure that keeps a person mobile, they need a little TLC, too — and Sparks is working to spread that word.
Besides providing foot care, Sparks has given talks to senior citizen groups and others in an educational campaign she calls "Healthy Feet, Healthy You." She goes over multiple conditions that can spring up in aging feet, including arthritis, toenail thickening, dry skin, swelling and reduced circulation, to name a few.
"I truly believe that if you have healthy feet, you can be healthy overall," she said. "Your feet don't ask for much. They are very, very, very basic. They're a support structure, but every organ system is found in the foot, and you know, it doesn't take much to make them comfortable. You know, the right size shoe, perfectly trimmed nails that allow you to prevent infections, soap and water, a little lotion, changing your socks, these basic things."
She's not just focused on older generations, either. The podiatrist said she works with children, too, looking at foot deformities and providing education about foot care at an early age. Sparks has even had a child consider entering the podiatry field after an appointment. It warmed her heart, she said.
Aside from the business and medical side of Sparks' new venture, she said it's proof that anyone can reinvent themselves. SPARKS Podiatry, she said, is named after her deceased father, the Rev. James Sparks.
"Sparks means something great, and if you don't contain it, obviously, it could become a wildfire," the podiatrist said, laughing. "At the same time, you want things to get started and throughout my entire life, no matter what obstacle I've faced, I've always just jumped in there and just not making things happen on my own, but I just keep pushing and striving toward the next thing."