Power Heels Minus The Pain, with Samantha from Ally Shoes

Our main story today is about Samantha Dong, the founder of Ally Shoes. They make power heels that are not painful to wear, through patent-pending technology and inclusive sizes. 

If you have ever worn heels, you know that with beauty comes pain. It’s great to see Samantha and her team bring science and innovation to footwear and empower women to be confident and comfortable!

Sam, take us from here.

🚊 WHY I STARTED ALLY SHOES

I started the company because of a climbing accident in business school. 

I was hiking in Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. On the way down, I fell a few times and injured my toes. 

My pain tolerance dropped to zero and it took me a while to recover. It took me a while to be able to wear closed-toe shoes, let alone heels.

When I was deciding what kind of company I wanted to start, I knew that I wanted to solve a problem that I personally experienced and feel passionate about.

I thought back to my time as a management consultant, where wearing heels for work every day had always been a pain point for me. I knew that a lot of professional women experience this pain as well and that I could do something to empower them to be confident without the pain.

💡 HOW I GOT MY FIRST CUSTOMERS

I started out very scrappy.

I found a great shoemaker in China and made myself some custom shoes. I then took pictures of my shoes and shared them with other female classmates at business school.

I told them: I can make 15 pairs of made-to-measure shoes, just Venmo me $300. 

It sold out really quickly, which gave me confidence that it could be a real business. 

🤔 HOW WE MADE HEELS COMFORTABLE AND INCLUSIVE

I recruited an all-star team to combine shoe-making knowledge with science: we have former designers from Cole Haan, Adidas, and a surgeon with expertise in ergonomics. 

Most heels put body weight to the front, but we shift the weight to the back, so our heels feel very different.

The other piece of the puzzle is to figure out mass customization. Our customers said that fit and width are very important to them, so we came up with half sizes with four width options, which is one of the most inclusive sizing offerings in the industry.

We wanted to be inclusive in our offering on other fronts too. We did a crowdfunding campaign to bring our Nude collection to life, where we offer heels in every shade of nude for every woman. 

The color “nude” usually refers to a specific color in the mainstream industry, and we want to challenge that. A customer told us, "this is the first time I am wearing my shade", and that was so gratifying to hear!

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September 30, 2020 — Minette Yu