Ryerson Grad Saves Women From Their “Beloved Damn Heels” One Pair Of Flats At A Time

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A night out partying with friends is always a good time, but for many women, wearing those stylish high heels can result in seriously sore feet by the end of the night.

Damn Heels is a company and product that promises to give sore feet a break—in style. Launched late last year, Damn Heels offers stylish, fold-up black flats that come in a sleek reusable bag designed to hold your high heels.

Plus, they’re only $20 including tax, so you can splurge on your heels and save on your flats.

Hailey Coleman is the enterprising young mind behind Damn Heels. Coleman, who earned a bachelor of commerce degree with a marketing major from Ryerson University in 2009, designed Damn Heels to solve a problem she knew well from her own personal experience.

With plans to expand her product line into new colours and retail locations, Coleman is quickly rising in the small business world with flair.

Q. How did you turn the initial idea of Damn Heels into a sellable product?
A. I had a general idea of what I wanted the product to look like and I hired a designer in March of last year and then together we worked on defining my vision for the product. Because she was the designer, she had expertise in that and we worked together on creating a product that we wanted. She did the pattern design for the bag and then we took products that we liked but tailored them to how I wanted them to fit on feet.

It was then a matter of creating a sample and working with our manufacturers to develop the final product.

Q. What has been your marketing strategy to create awareness of and interest in Damn Heels?
A. We’ve been using social media the most. We’ve been developing different campaigns through that. There is lots of product information that I can give out about the product through [social media]. I also hired a PR team, so they have been wonderful at creating outreach opportunities. And a lot of it is just a spinoff from press opportunities there.

Q. Many student and recent grads who are interested in launching their own product may be put off by start-up costs. How creative do you need to be to finance your vision?
A. Ultimately, one of the challenges with it is that it has to be [your] passion so you can set your mind to do it. I guess you have to be creative in starting your finances. So maybe you’ll have another job or you’ll take out a line of credit and still apply for business plan competitions. Basically you have to try to tap as many avenues as possible.

Q. How have you balanced starting a company with other commitments, such as school and work?
A. I actually just quit my job last week. But up until last week, I’d been working a full-time job as well.  I worked at a restaurant so it was a little bit more flexible in terms of scheduling. I requested [to be] scheduled at nights so that I was available to work on Damn Heels from the regular 9-to-5 schedule that everybody else has.

Q. You’re currently selling the shoes online on your website and in a handful of select salons, shops and restaurants across Canada. Are you looking to expand to more stores and online retailers in the near future?
A. Yes, I am. That’s my objective for the summer. We’re primarily looking to expand the type of retailers offering Damn Heels. So not just salons, but shoe stores, gift stores, etc. We have a number of different retailers we feel we can enter so that is our main short-term goal.

Q. When it comes to fashion, celebrity endorsements never hurt. Which celebrity would you like to see don a pair Damn Heels?
A. That’s a good question. I would have to say Lady Gaga…maybe Oprah too.

For more information about Damn Heels, check out the Facebook fan page and follow @DamnHeels on Twitter.

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