Posted on July 13 2020
We are so pleased to partner with Solemates. Most of you have probably heard of the brand from their heel protectors. They are a patent product designed to prevent stilettos from sinking into the grass. And Solemates doesn't end with heel protectors follow along to find out what else they are doing and from now until the end of the month take 20% off everything on Solemates with the code ALLY20.
ALLY: What inspired you to start Solemates?
Solemates: The idea for Solemates was born out of personal necessity. My business partner Monica Ferguson and I were tired of ruining our high heels sinking into grass at outdoor weddings and events. There was no solution (other than to wear flats or wedges), so we decided to create it ourselves and so was born Solemates.
For me, I first encountered ‘that sinking feeling’ before my high school prom. I was all dressed up with my friends trying to take pictures on my parents’ lawn. My champagne colored satin strappy heels kept sinking into the grass, and I could not stand up straight - none of us could! We ended taking the pictures on the driveway instead. I ruined my heels, felt clumsy and awkward, and thought there must be a better way! Fast forward a few years to living and working in NYC in my 20s, and I was constantly ruining my heels either at outdoor events and weddings, or from the city sidewalks and grates. It was while I was getting my MBA at Columbia Business School that I told my friend and classmate Monica about this idea for a high heel protector. She, of course, had experienced the same frustration and had ruined so many heels over the years and was excited about creating the solution. We were taking a class called Entrepreneurial Finance, and the final was to write a business plan, which Monica did and that is what became Solemates!
ALLY: What does a day of work look like for you? Pre-Covid and now.
Solemates: Every day is really a little different, depending on what time of year it is and what is going on. In normal (pre-COVID times), I would typically be traveling every week in some form or another, meeting with retail partners, suppliers, marketing partners, investors, and/or attending events like trade shows, marketing and networking events, etc.. When not traveling, I would be at our office and managing our operations and staff. During COVID, everything has moved to virtual. For Solemates, normally this time of year (spring, summer) would mean weddings, parties, graduations, proms, and outdoor events which is usually our peak season for the high heel protectors. Since those events are either postponed or cancelled, our business has pivoted quite a bit. Over the last few months, our Blister Blocker, Deodorizer, and Shoe care products have taken over as the top sellers. In April, after receiving numerous requests from frontline healthcare workers who were suffering from painful face-chafing from constantly wearing masks, we launched a Blister Blocker donation program so we could provide our natural, anti-friction balm to the frontline healthcare professionals and help alleviate some of this discomfort. Our customers stepped up big-time and we were able to donate to dozens of hospitals around the country! I feel grateful that we have been able to help support the pandemic fight (even if it’s just a small way) and as a business owner, I feel fortunate that we were able to pivot and offer products that are relevant to people even during these extremely challenging times.
ALLY: What has been your proudest moment of Solemates?
Solemates: Shark Tank was an incredible experience, but having Oprah as a customer and seeing Solemates featured in O Magazine, and seeing Carrie Underwood and Demi Lovato wear Solemates to perform were probably the proudest single moments for me.
ALLY: Where do you see the future of Solemates?
Solemates: Solemates’ mission is to make you more comfortable in your own shoes. To that end, we will continue to innovate and launch new products that support that mission. We created our flagship product because we needed it and there was no other solution on the market. As we’ve expanded, each product is meant to be a solution to a common frustration - from blister prevention and odor elimination, to comfort and weather protection. We listen to our customers closely and are always exploring new product ideas that might fit under our umbrella. Our products are natural, non-toxic, and made in the USA. We are excited to continue to grow our line and so appreciative of our customers and followers who look to Solemates as the trusted brand in shoe and foot care solutions.
ALLY: As a female founded and female focused brand just like ALLY what do you hope to deliver to women?
Solemates: Authenticity and quality. From the launch of Solemates through today, we’ve seen so many brands geared towards women that were started and/or run by men. Not taking away from their accomplishments and the amazing brands and companies they built, but I think as a female founder offering products originally geared towards women, we have a level of authenticity that resonates with our customers. Necessity is the mother of invention, and unless you have experienced a problem first-hand, it can be difficult to truly appreciate the best solutions. I think that is one of the characteristics that sets Solemates apart and that attracts customers to Solemates - we know what you’re feeling because we’ve been there, and we were not happy with the options available to us so we created new ones. I think that philosophy extends beyond women and really is an approach that many customers appreciate. Today, Solemates makes products for women, men, kids and anyone who wants to look and feel better in their shoes.
ALLY: What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass on?
Solemates: Trust the process and be comfortable being uncomfortable. It is very difficult being an entrepreneur. Yes, it’s amazing, wonderful, exciting, and unparalleled, but it is also terrifying, stressful, lonely, and exhausting. We hear a lot about the overnight success stories, the outliers, the unicorns, but the reality is that most great companies are built over time and each day doesn’t involve a lot of glamour. It’s really about putting in the effort day in and day out, keeping your passion burning, and staying committed to your vision that wins in the end. I remind myself of that principle often, and anyone else who is pursuing the entrepreneurial journey especially, for there really is nothing else quite like it.