Samantha is the Founder and CEO of Ally Shoes. She chats with A.Lynn about creating fashionable shoes that fit women's real foot shape. As part of our 'Outside the Box' series, we talk about why finding quality designs in a wider variety of sizing options for women has been difficult... until now. And what it takes to launch a fashion brand that is bringing a more personalized fit to women who want to be stylish and comfortable.
Ally is an innovative, fashion brand designed for women by women. Ally is renowned for designing pain-free heels for power women. After a foot injury, Samantha couldn’t find heels that wouldn't hurt, so she teamed up with the best creative minds and podiatric experts to design stylish heels for all women. She is passionate about empowering women through fashion and making luxury footwear more accessible for women on the move.
A:TEAM: How are you changing the fashion industry and why?
Ally Shoes is a symbol of empowerment for women. We celebrate women’s unique stories and create products intentionally designed for women, by women. We are going against the trend of fast fashion culture, to create quality products that are made to last that you will want to wear all the time. We innovate and design to solve the literal pain points of heels. Unique to our mission is inclusivity in sizing and colors.
A.TEAM: What was your ‘aha’ moment for why you created 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.
A:TEAM: Why do you think this hasn’t been done before? Is it a more challenging business model?
Traditionally men have been the designers behind women’s heels. As a woman, I understand the literal pain points of this industry and reject the notion that beauty should equal to pain. Previously designers have compromised on comfort for style. I challenged this traditional business model to make heels both stylish and comfortable. It’s a labor-intensive process in research and design and we did the leg work. We invested a lot of time in our first year perfecting our signature heel and didn’t take shortcuts to make sure we got it right. We’re also leveraging a flexible supply chain to allow us to offer more inclusive sizes while carrying less inventory, which creates a more sustainable business model for our company as well as for the environment.
A:TEAM: What was it about shoe sizing that you personally had a problem?
I need a diverse range of sizes - I’m a size 5.5 narrow fit. Not every brand makes half sizes, and most of them only offer only one width. As a result, I’m used to wearing shoes that are too big for me. Then after my foot injury, I also need arch support in heeled shoes, and the padded arch support often made my shoes too tight. It’s my personal experience that really helped drive our approach to create a more inclusive sizing strategy for our line.
A:TEAM: Why is customization or more sizing so important? Why do you think not many companies do it?
Ally Shoes recognizes that all feet are different. It’s important to offer a range of sizes to give all women options that work for them in our collection. Our Fit Finder was created to help ensure we get your size right and streamline our direct to consumer process. Customization in sizing and offering more sizes can be a costly approach and that’s why more companies don’t do it.
In the traditional retail model where brands purchase and keep inventory on hand, they are constantly trying to avoid potentially unsold inventory. As a result, it makes sense to offer less granular sizes to save money.
A:TEAM: Do you have a problem finding perfectly fitting clothing? If so, why and how do more options help you? Do you feel like the fashion industry doesn’t make clothing for you?
I’m a petite (size 00), so often times I have a hard time finding clothes that fit me well. I am a loyalist of a few brands that actually offer my size. I’m guilty of buying outfits, not because I like the style, but solely because the clothes fit. I also spend a lot of additional money tailoring my clothes to fit. Having an inclusive sizing approach in fashion is a must because we all want to feel good in our clothes. A perfectly fitting outfit makes me feel exponentially more confident.