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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Kelley Simons, President of Slingbackers Our Coverage Sponsored by Maine Woolens

Kelley Simons

Maine Woolens is a weaver of blanket and throws located in Brunswick, Maine. We work primarily with natural fibers, like cottons and worsted wools and are committed to using renewable natural fibers from American growers whenever possible. We do piece dyeing and package dyeing in house and the combined experience of our excellent employees exceeds 300 years. Our wool and cotton blankets and throws are 100 percent machine washable, soft and luxurious to the touch, cozy warm and comfortably light. We have many styles to choose from. Our clients are very positive about our products and happy to support a Made in Maine, USA company. Visit our website at

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Maine Woolens, affordable luxury and tradition. 


Kelley Simons now understands first hand, that necessity is truly the mother of invention. Kelley is the creator and inventor of Slingbackers, The Hem Wedge Solution, a new innovative patent pending shoe accessory that creates a barrier to keep pants, jeans and gowns from getting wedged between a woman's heels and her slingback shoes. 

As with many women, Kelley LOVES shoes... specifically, she adored slingback shoes! Kelley invented Slingbackers™ after continually being frustrated at not being able to wear her favourite sexy slingbacks with her jeans for a night out or to work because her pants would get stuck inside the heel of her shoe. She would be moving and constantly pulling the pant hems out from within her heel. It drove Kelley crazy…however, after years of having this wardrobe malfunction…it finally dawned on her, Kelley figured if she was having this problem, there were women everywhere whose wardrobes were limited because of this same issue.

Finally, from the initial hairbands Kelley looped together, to making and testing hundreds of prototypes and designs, Slingbackers™ came to life and is now a full fledged fashion accessory business. Kelley always thrived on new challenges and achievements, always searching for the perfect fit but never quite feeling she was there. Now, finally, Kelley wakes up excited everyday and feels she is truly doing what she was meant to do. 

Kelley began her career with an education in Marketing in Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA. However, Kelley quickly realized her passions lay in the area of leadership, sales and presentation.  Along with enjoying her work in a number of different sales roles, Kelley loved being involved in Community Theatre, which led her on the path to becoming an on air host, remote reporter, presenter and journalist. That combined with a strong sales career gave her the confidence and skill set to take a leap of faith and run her own fashion accessory business. 

Kelley is loving the business of Slingbackers. Everyday is a new adventure and everyday she keeps pushing to get media exposure and traction in the marketplace. One of the highlights in Kelleys endeavors thus far was her appearance on CBCs Dragons Den. This is a show where new inventors pitch their products in front of a panel of business experts, much like the U.S. version of Sharks Tank. Although Kelley didn’t get the deal, the experience and conversations empowered her with the knowledge and determination to make the business work. 

Fast forward nine months and Slingbackers are starting to gain traction and visibility in the marketplace. A number of companies have expressed interest in potential licensing and in the marketing of Slingbackers which will bring Slingbackers to the next level. Kelley's initial goal was to solve an age old women's fashion dilemma and she has done that successfully.  Now, the goal is to grow the business globally and keep women focusing on the important things in their day….not pulling their clothing hems from inbetween their heels and slingback shoes! We are absolutely thrilled to present Kelley Simons as our latest Mover and Shaker! Peachy Deegan interviewed Kelley for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is your first shoe memory in life?
Kelley Simons: 
When I begged my mom to buy me some cool platform shoes in Jr school.

What kinds of shoes did you like as a kid?

I loved anything trendy, from Adidas running shoes to Earth shoes…if you can remember those!

When did you discover you needed to make footwear your occupation and why?

I love high heel shoes and specifically adored high heel slingback shoes. However, the hems of my pants were constantly getting stuck in the heels of my slingback shoes and it annoyed me so much that I played around for fun to stop the problem and then realized the product had a lot of potential! So many women I started talking to confirmed they had struggled with the same annoying problem and that’s when I knew I had a winning product. 

If you were stranded on a desert island with only 5 pairs of shoes, what would they be and why?
Running shoes!...I am a die-hard runner and need my fix
Uggs…Love the comfort and warmth of my Uggs for travelling around

Jimmy Choo summer wedges the strappiness and versatility of these

My gold strappy Halston slingback sandals…dressed up or down they always look fabulous

My Nine West patterned slingbacks….my go to shoe.

We strongly prefer quality shoes made in Europe and in the rare case when possible, the USA and as you know, promote shoes and everything of quality. How do you feel about manufacturing location of shoes?

I too believe in quality and love European design. That said, many manufacturers are doing a good job of manufacturing offshore and adhering to the “United Nations Global Compact Principles” I am in support of those that play by the rules.

What other inventions do you have up your sleeve for footwear?

I am definitely in inventor mode these days after creating Slingbackers. Slingbackers were a great problem solver for women and I am currently working on some unique ideas to enhance a women’s shoe experience. 

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?

Albert Coulier-Schelstraete (1919-2011) was my cycling coach when I competed in the World Amateur Cycling Championships in Austria. He taught me that hard work is what it takes to make a difference on raceday and in the world.

What are you proudest of and why?

In business I am proud of the fact that I took a leap of faith and turned my dream of creating a business into a reality. For many years I felt locked into life and kept thinking I have the skill set to do more…I just didn’t know what that meant until I fell into inventor mode!

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?

I would like to be able to take what I have learned in all aspects of my business and mentor other inventors. I wished I had someone to speak with early on that had gone through the process to guide me better as so much is trial and error.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?

I have been in sales all my life in a number of professions and have been recognized over the years for being the top salesperson in most professions. 

What one word best describes you and why?

Tenacious…I am very determined and I don’t let the world NO get in my way !

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?

Central Park 

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?

Macy's…always fun and great prices. 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?

Ian Schrager – His originality in creating spaces with energy and originality could do wonders in thinking outside the (shoe)box in the shoe industry. It would be great to see the results.

What is your favorite drink?

White Sambuca and pineapple juice over ice. An amazing combination from Cuba. Try it!

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?

Crashed a beach cocktail party on a scuba diving holiday in Cozumel and became good friends with the hosts!

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?

BECCO on West 46th has homemade Italian pasta and great red wines that are perfect for a group or a romantic night out.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature?

Being a romantic, I’d have to say Meg Ryan in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Her spirit, “leap of faith” attitude and the final scene on the Empire State Building all create a love for the city that’s contagious.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?

I’d like to be a musician. I love engaging people and I love how music can make us feel so many emotions as well as bring us back to memorable times or place in our lives. 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?

Perhaps the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. It brings such joy and memories. I’d like to be a part of that.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?

Running in Central Park…love it. 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?

The NY Subway is a constant flow of energy through the city. Every time I surface it’s like I’m somewhere new.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Estee Lauder. Not only was she an inventor and entrepreneur, she combined that with business savvy and sales skills that made her billionaire before passing in 2004.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?

Live music at the “Groove” (W 3rd and MacDougal St) in Greenwich Village. Someone special to me said “I love you” the first time I was there.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?

I think that getting involved in the community and committing time, energy and money close to home keeps you grounded.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?

-underrated: Feeling safe in Manhattan is something that goes unrecognized in the media. Day or night, it’s a great (and safe) place to be.

-overrated: I do find Times Square just a bit too crowded these days. Although I always migrate in that direction, I also try to focus on other NYC areas and explore. So many things to see and do!

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?

Definitely Cuisine and Drinks. Showcases the great hot spots to visit the next time I’m in NY!

Have you tried The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not? 
Hmmmm..not yet. Let me Google that…3 parts Start Vodka; 1 part Peach Schnapps; Half a lime; Splash of Peach Nectar…wow. I’m in.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?

3 awesome kids, someone special, and Nala my Golden Retriever make every day a joy.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

I’m looking forward to talking to all of you!!

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