By Ivana Markotic
Last night, disheveled from a 2 a.m. exit from a bar, I pour onto Queen Street in my heels. Five hours in four inch heels always results in the same question: Why do I torture myself to reach such great heights? Fittingly, my interview today is with Hailey Coleman, the twenty-two year old entrepreneur behind “Damn Heels,” the sole solution for taking a break from your high heels.

Launched in December 2009, “Damn Heels” is the popular expression-turned company providing comfortable foot apparel for females. The black ballerina flat folds up conveniently into a black pouch that fits into a bag and even some clutches (no, your Coach “clutch” that is a wallet with a handle does not count). The pouch even turns into a tote to place your heels into for carrying. Amongst the media attention, “Damn Heels” won Coleman the Slaight Communications Business Plan Competition for $25,000.

Ladies, your walk to work, walk home from a club and walk of shame just got easier.

I feel that it is obvious why a product like this was a created by a female, but was there a pivotal moment that made you want to create the shoe?
I was backpacking one year and that’s where the original idea started. My original plan for the product was actually a flip-flop then it turned into a ballerina flat and it’s way cuter.
I love the name, it seems to sum up the anger and frustration pretty well. Where did you come up with it?
When I was backpacking the idea came about. I was backpacking with my girlfriend Danielle, so it was Danielle and Hailey. And I thought ‘wouldn’t it be amazing we could start this company selling these shoes for women at the end of the night, Danielle and Hailey—DH.’ She didn’t partner with me on that but every woman has said “these ‘Damn Heels.’”
What do you have to say to people who claim they can just fold up their regular flats and bring them into a club and not invest in Damn Heels?
Well, of course you can always do that, but the beauty about ‘Damn Heels,’ is because in a pouch, if you are using them again, you don’t have the dirt you have on your shoes and in your purse. The pouch also expands into a little tote bag so you can tuck the heels you were wearing into the bag so you’re not just carrying them. And really, the bag you can use for about anything afterwards.”
Can you describe the shoe and how it folds up without cracking?
The shoe folds in half and it has a thin outsole, so it has more flexibility and that’s why it doesn’t crack. Also, it’s thinner and therefore smaller and more compact when it gets folded. Also, the way that it’s packaged, it packs into the pouch.”
The sole of the shoe is about 2mm, is it a burden on the feet because it is so thin?
We put a sole on it so you don’t feel the rocks or anything when you are walking. It doesn’t feel like you are walking on pavement or anything when you are walking. There is an insole as well as an outsole. But it’s designed to be a little saviour; walking home from a night out, to and from work, so it’s not meant for long distances.
Did you design the shoe or partner with a designer?
I hired a designer when I started working on [Damn Heels]. I knew the general idea of what I wanted it to look like, then she worked her magic to make it happen.
$20 is a very fair price, is there a lifeline to the shoe before you go back to your damn heels?
There is definitely a lifeline on them because they are thinner. If you use them for what they are made for, like running to the cab, they have lasted me for months.
What is it like being so young and starting a company like this?
It’s rather exciting. I guess because I am so young I have so much to learn and so much time to learn it. I’m pretty proud of myself!
The tallest pair of shoes you’ve ever been in?
Haha, probably four inches. Ask me if can walk that well in them!

Damn Heels are available at or at a number of retailers across Canada, including Blo Blowdry Bars, boutiques and nail salons. Gold and Silver designs are to be released in Fall 2010.