Solemates brand grows beyond heel protectors

- Two former Goldman Sachs analysts have turned their love of heels into a full-time business. Their New York-based brand Solemates started with a heel protector that helps women save their shoes, whether they're standing in the grass or navigating the cracks on city sidewalks.

Co-founder Monica Ferguson says the heel protector has a patented hourglass shape that enables a woman to get the protector on her heel easily. That shape also gives the protector strength and flexibility when it's on the shoe.

Monica and co-founder Becca Brown came up with the idea while they were classmates at Columbia Business School. Becca says she was constantly ruining her heels whether at graduations, weddings, or living in New York. So one day, in class, she asked Monica: why hadn't anyone come up with something to keep heels from sinking into grass? Monica wrote the business plan and the two got to work.

A chance encounter with Gayle King was their "a ha" moment. Becca had a beautiful box of Solemates and a pizza delivered to O Magazine to the attention of Gayle King. Coincidentally, Gayle was away in Bel Air at a wedding with Oprah, where the wedding planner was handing out Solemates because it was on grass.

Gayle came back to New York trying to remember the name of the heel protectors, walked into her office, and saw Becca's box of Solemates. She reached out to Becca and Monica, saying it was the law of attraction at work and interviewed Becca on her radio show.

Today, Solemates has an entire range of products from their original heel protectors, to a blister blocker, an all-natural anti-bacterial spray, rescue kits, and more. There's a leather, suede, and fabric protector that guards against all weather. They also make insoles, skid guards, and heel pads.

Becca and Monica do all of their fulfillment at their warehouse in Port Chester, New York, and make all of their products in the U.S. Monica says they manufacture their heel protectors at a great facility in Louisiana that is incredibly responsive. If they need to up their production by a few hundred thousand units at a time, it's never a problem. It's a relationship they covet and a reason why they believe working domestically is so great.

Last fall, Solemates appeared on "Shark Tank," which they say was an amazing and unique experience that was also a lot of fun.

Their heel protectors have been in every magazine you can imagine, and on some famous heels. Demi Lovato wore them to sing the national anthem during the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Carrie Underwood rocked them at the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Monica and Becca went to a Carrie Underwood concert at MSG, and she was wearing Solemates then, too. (Carrie reportedly wears Solemates at all of her concerts.) The two said they were the most excited people in the entire audience. 

So what's next for the brand? They're rolling out a full line of Solemates in about 4,000 CVS stores nationwide this fall.

www.thesolemates.com

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