Our Brand Spotlight highlights small and up-and-coming clothing and accessory brands and their female founders. In this edition, we interviewed Samantha Dong, the founder of Ally Shoes, who created the perfect comfortable heels for work.
Ally Shoes is an innovative fashion brand designed for women by women – creating power heels minus the pain. Their mission is to be an ally in fashion for all women. Importantly, Ally shoes feature a patent-pending comfortable design and especially inclusive sizing options (including three widths). We absolutely love their gorgeous heels not only for the office but date night as well!
Dying to try a pair yourself? We thrilled to offer you $40 off your first purchase of a pair of these comfortable work heels at www.ally.nyc with code WORKWEARINSPO40.
Ally Shoes founder Samantha Dong talks to Workwear Inspiration about Ally’s mission, and their quest to create beautiful yet pain-free shoes for women.
Firstly, why did you start Ally Shoes?
A former management consultant, I always wore heels to work. Then I hurt my feet hiking and couldn’t wear heels without pain. That’s when it clicked – heels shouldn’t hurt. I made it my mission to find the best in the business to create pain-free heels for women. ALLY Shoes’ founding leadership team includes Podiatric Surgeon, Dr. Roxann Clarke, and acclaimed shoe designer, Sarah Jaramillo. Our diverse backgrounds and varying professional experiences inspired the overall concept of our unique pain-free heels and shoe design. We each bring our expertise to the table and together we created a heel that can be a woman’s ally.
Who is your target customer?
We are building a community of real, professional women from all walks of life. Our customers demand style and functionality in their fashion choices.
What is your favorite Ally shoe?
I’m a big fan of our ankle strap pumps, newly launched this year. I have very thin heels and ankles. The ankle straps give me the additional security and peace of mind.
What inspires you creatively?
Anything that combines beauty, style and function.
What is the biggest challenge you face running your brand?
When COVID 19 hit, we had to shut down all of our offline channels including our showroom, store partners, and trunk shows. It sent a huge shockwave to business. However, we quickly pivoted and launched a new “at-home trial box” program that allows customers to try different sizes before buying, aiming to re-create our fitting room experience in the comfort of their homes. In addition, we believe office-life will be changed after the recovery as well. Many offices will stay closed in the foreseeable future, and remote work will be more acceptable in the long term. We are adapting our product line by developing high quality footwear more suitable for walking outside, including block heels and flats with proper arch support.
How many people are on your team and how do you rely on them?
We are a small and mighty team of less than 10 people. In addition to myself, our founding team includes two other powerhouse women – Dr. Roxanne Clarke, a practicing podiatric surgeon, and Sara Jaramillo, an accomplished footwear designer. Our diverse professional backgrounds allowed us to bring best practices from different sides and create a product that has never been created before; our varied cultural backgrounds also inspired us to launch our nude collection with five different shades to represent the diversity of today’s women. We also rely heavily on our advisors for their industry experience, including former Innovation Director from Cole Haan / Nike and former executive from Shultz.
What’s your business superpower?
Building a team and surrounding myself with people who are smarter and more capable than me.
Where do you see your brand in the future?
From day one, ALLY is not just about heels. We’re mission-driven and committed to empowering women through fashion and innovation. Our vision is rooted in an inclusive approach to sizing and design for women. In the long term, we aim to expand into other categories and be the go-to accessible luxury & functional fashion brands for all women – celebrating all of the major milestones in their lives and being their ally in fashion.
Finally, what’s one piece of advice you’d like to give working women?
Always take on roles that give you the capacity to learn and the opportunity to learn from the best people. It’s vital to surround yourself with a strong and supportive team.
Need some outfit inspo on how to wear a pair of heels to work? Then find out how a recent outfit of the day featured woman styled a pair of classic black pumps here.
Thanks to Ally Shoes for partnering with us on this post!