Samantha Dong: Your Hunt for the Perfect Heels is Over

September 6 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Style Versus Comfort

I saw a photo on Twitter of Jennifer Lopez, aka J-Lo, wearing what some are calling “joots,” jean boots. Part of the Versace Resort 2019 collection, these boots look exactly like they sound; they’re boots made to look like belted jeans. Most of the internet ain’t having it and I can’t help but agree. There’s one thing you can’t deny about this all-American spin on a thigh-high heel: It’s a look, and a brave one. While Jenny from the Block’s footwear may not be for everyone, we’ve got to give her credit for just doing her. What’s one of your must-have fashion items that leaves peeps puzzled?


I once went to an arts festival in college with a guy. The weather was perfect and my outfit matched, but after 30 minutes, I was done for. My feet were throbbing, as in I-need-a-pedicure-right-now-and-I’m-throwing-these-shoes-in-the-trash pain. Said dude did not understand my pain, but when I literally couldn’t walk anymore, I didn’t care what he thought. While nearly half of women wear high heels, 71 percent complain about the pain it causes them. Are heels worth it?

WOMAN TO WATCH: Samantha Dong, Founder and CEO of Ally Shoes

Today’s Woman to Watch, Samantha Dong, would say “no way.” Sam was born in Shanghai and made the United States her home when she was just shy of 18. Raised by parents who worked in the department-store industry, Sam has always had her eye on staying fashionably cool. She got her first taste of fashion in a summer intensive study at Parsons Paris before going on to earn her master's degree at Stanford University, and it was while she was studying at Stanford that she began working on her company, Ally Shoes.

Sam calls herself a “petite Asian woman.” We short ladies know it isn’t easy to get noticed, much less to being taken seriously by tall folks. That’s why Sam preferred to wear heels in the workplace, despite the inevitable pain that hit by 2 p.m. Like many of us, she wondered what she could do to reduce the agony that comes with wearing heels, but unlike most of us, she actually made her query a reality.

Aside from Sam’s background in business and product development, it was injuring her toe in a hiking accident that proved to be the last straw for her when it came to comfy shoes. So, Sam consulted with an ankle surgeon, along with a former designer at Yeezy. The result was everyday, walkable footwear that’s timeless and comfy. Ally Shoes is the culmination of hours of wearing heels and hours of figuring out how to make heels a friend rather than an enemy.

Customers are obsessed with the chic relief that Ally Shoes offers. One pregnant professional woman gushes about how she no longer has to sacrifice style for comfort, while another says she can finally put her search for the perfect heels to bed.

The shoe comes in two classic options: black leather and black suede. The brand will soon offer five shades of nude, saying goodbye to a one-color-fits-all approach. So, what makes Sam’s stilettos comfortable? A few things: There’s leather that moves with you, conforming to your foot shape for hours on end, as well as an outsole that prevents unfortunate slips and falls. There’s a proprietary three-point comfort system, which is kind of like KFC’s special recipe. Who knows what makes it finger-lickin’ good, but we’re here for it.

Sam’s role models include Michelle Obama, namely for the way she blends confidence and brilliance with personality and relatability. Mrs. Obama is kind of like Ally Shoes: someone who is reliable and will always have your back (or, in this case, your feet).


Cheetah Girls alumna and Dancing With the Stars contestant Sabrina Bryan said:

“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus and the support.”

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