One day, Pra was at a country show in the UK, strutting around in her favourite pair of Valentino Rockstud heels. (No, it’s not wise to wear heels in a field but that’s simply what we do when we’re at the show!) The next morning, she discovered one of the heels had been shredded and destroyed.
The shock! The horror! The sadness!
I searched high and low for a cobbler who could mend them properly and then upon finding one, promptly FedEx’d the shoes out to London and anxiously waited for their return. (Shout out to Classic Shoe Repairs in Islington, London, for helping a gal out of an awful situation.)
And I have to show some love to my regular go-to, The Cobbler at Dubai Mall! But, as much as I love them, I’d love it even more if I didn’t have to constantly pay for mistakes like what happened to my Vals. Shelling out money to protect the red soles of your Loubs or to add metal toe ends to pointed shoes? That’s OK. Paying the big bucks to correct massive errors like ruined heels? Not OK.
It was only after all of the drama that I stumbled across Solemates. What I particularly loved was the attention to detail. When I got in touch with them, the girls at Solemates sent me a personalised letter expressing their genuine concern and sympathy towards the state of my Valentinos. It was a story and feeling they’re all too familiar with; it wasn’t just about selling plastic heel protectors. Their own traumatic experiences with ruining heels in the grass and other heel-unfriendly surfaces is what led to the creation of Solemates (thank goodness for entrepreneurial minds!). That’s what I call turning a negative into a positive!
Becca Brown and Monica Ferguson, the ladies behind Solemates, very kindly sent me a great pack of goodies, like the Solemates High Heelers in both clear and black, Blister Blocker, and a beautiful #wellheeled shoe bag. They also included their super fab S.O.S. Wedding Rescue kit which was stuffed with almost everything you think you might need on any given night out. Seriously, the kit includes, among other items, clear Solemates, Advil, antacid, bobby pins and safety pins, an elastic hair band, tissues, a sewing kit, a Shout wipe, and a tampon. I know that a lot of the items on my going-out mental checklist are taken care of with this one kit!
I tested out my Solemates on the cobblestones of Saint-Tropez and the only comment I have is that I had a bit of an issue keeping them on my super slim heels. An XS size would be perfect and simple fix, especially with some of the killer stilettos coming out!
Wouldn’t it be fab, I suggested, if they also made a general night out pack, as well as a special pack for polo season? Because I know Dubai women would just gobble this right up. You start off feeling fresh and looking fab but by the time you’ve spent a few hours on your feet, you’re suffering or your heels are covered in dirt and grass stains. In the meantime, though, that Wedding Rescue kit will certainly do the trick!!
Newly in love with their product, I wanted to ask a few more questions about them and the Solemates brand.
We love celebrating strong, successful women here at The Caviar Spoon, which is why we’ve created ReBelles. These are the women who are working it and owning it! Here, we’re featuring Monica Ferguson and Becca Brown, co-founders of Solemates.
Your backgrounds prior to setting up Solemates?
Monica: Becca and I both worked in finance before launching Solemates. We met on our first day of Financial Analyst training at Goldman Sachs, and proceeded to work there for the next 5 years in various (different) roles and groups. We coincidentally both ended up at Columbia Business School, and it was here that we first planted the seeds for what is now Solemates. We were taking a class called Entrepreneurial Finance, taught by Dean Glenn Hubbard. The final for the class was to write a business plan. Becca had this idea for a heel stopper that would prevent high heels from sinking into grass, and when she told me about it, I immediately had this flash of memories of all the heels I had ruined attending outdoor weddings and parties. We decided we would invent a solution, and I proceeded to write our first business plan for this class.
Becca: We had both committed to going back to GS after school, which we did, and continued to work on Solemates on the side until ultimately we found ourselves at a crossroads and decided to take the leap and pursue Solemates full time. While we both loved working at GS and appreciated it for everything it taught us, we knew that if we didn’t bring this idea to market and someone else did, we would regret it forever.
What was your AHA! moment?
Becca: It all started at my high school prom. I was dressed up with all my friends, trying to take pictures on my parents’ lawn in front of the limos. My heels kept sinking into the grass, as did those of all my friends, and we literally couldn’t stand up straight. We ended up having to take the pictures on the steps instead. I ruined my (cream satin) heels, felt clumsy and awkward, and never forgot that experience. Unfortunately, that frustration and ruin followed me in the years to come to pretty much every outdoor event I attended – graduations, weddings, parties, and when I found myself living and working in NYC after college, the city streets wreaked havoc on my heels. The final straw was a friend’s wedding I attended in Jackson Hole, the summer during business school. It was a beautiful destination wedding, but each night there was a cocktail party on the grass, and I literally ruined every pair of heels I brought with me! I came back to school fed up with ruining heels!
Tell us about your range and ideas behind things such as the bridal pack.
Monica: As we grew, our customers, both direct and wholesale, kept asking us “what else do you have?”
Based on the success of the High Heeler, we were in a good position to roll out additional shoe care products for women, and we also recognized that there was a tremendous void in the market for these items. We all know how much we love our shoes, yet there hasn’t ever been a brand of women’s shoe care and solutions that speaks to women, in an authentic way. Solemates is that brand, and from the original high heel protector, we now offer a full line of women’s shoe solutions.
It’s a competitive market—what’s your edge? (Any celebs??)
Becca: We are proud to say that Solemates is the original, patented high heel protector; we have basically created this market. We have been extremely fortunate from Day 1 to have garnered the attention of many editors because most women have experienced the frustration of ruining heels. Solemates resonates with women everywhere. We are thrilled to say that Solemates have been featured in Glamour, People Magazine, Real Simple, The Knot, The New York Times Style Section, The Today Show, and more. We also count many celebrities among our customers, including Carrie Underwood, Lauren Conrad, and Oprah.
How would you describe your business in 3 words:
PROTECT YOUR HEELS
Your mantra in business and in life:
Becca: Keep moving forward. And do what scares you.
Monica: Make it simple but significant
Best restaurant in the world:
Becca: Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Monica: Nobu Malibu
Best hotel in the world:
Becca: Storchen Zurich; The Four Seasons anywhere ☺
Monica: One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
And, of course, best shoe designer:
Becca: Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Giuseppe Zanotti
Monica: Manolo Blahnik fit me best, Christian Louboutin captures my imagination, Jimmy Choo captures my spirit
All in all, I love these ladies! Besties who went from finance gurus to shoe protectors and are a walking example of how you should give something up if you’re not happy and just go and live the dream!