An entrepreneurial mum-of-two’s ingenious shoe accessory has walked away with the backing of Kelly Hoppen MBE and Deborah Meaden following a successful pitch on Dragons’ Den.
Fashion-loving Ally Stevenson, from Stubbington, in Hampshire, created multi-purpose heel stoppers Clean Heels to prevent women from sinking into soft ground when they walk in heels outdoors, and also to protect the heels themselves from damage and dirt.
British made Clean Heels also makes walking in heels easier and more comfortable; thanks to the rubber base providing increased support and allowing better balance.
Already flying off the shelves in BHS, among other respected retailers, the product is now ready to take its next step to success with Dragons Deborah and Kelly, who have agreed to lay out £50,000 in return for a 12.5 per cent share each in the business.
Commenting on the investment, Kelly said: “The simplicity and versatility of Clean Heels totally won me over. “They’re a discrete, inexpensive item that every woman who wears heels should own.
Both Dragons praised Ally Stevenson:“We’re really impressed with Ally’s determination and how she has kept her business going through serious health problems,”.
Deborah added: “They’re a must for outdoors when the ground isn’t great to walk on, they also help women to move around better in heels and they actually extend the life of the shoe itself.”
Ally, a mum-of-two, came up with the idea for Clean Heels a decade ago when she was a guest at an outdoor wedding reception. She popped beer bottle tops under her high heels to help her stand on the grass during a speech and decided there and then to come up with a more permanent solution.
After testing out numerous styles and materials, Ally settled on a neat design. Clean Heels are soft, yet flexible, so they provide enough support and are also easy to attach and remove.
She set about launching her business in 2005, but on the day she showcased her invention at the Goodwood Festival, Ally was taken to hospital and diagnosed with breast cancer.
Nine months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment followed, but during that time Ally refused to give up on Clean Heels, which was rapidly attracting interest from customers and retailers. She successfully overcame the disease and is now enjoying a clean bill of health. Ally produces Clean Heels at a small factory in her native Portsmouth and from there the product is shipped all over the world.
“I was really nervous about going into the Den but I had a wonderful time and am chuffed Kelly and Deborah have come onboard with my invention,” Ally said.
“Women will never stop wearing heels and Clean Heels means they don’t have to worry about sinking into soft ground outdoors, or about damaging or dirtying the heels.
“A gorgeous pair of heels can make women feel more confident and sexy but that evaporates if you’re left teetering on mud or grass. These little tools empower women who wear high shoes and gives them the choice to wear the designs they want, where they want.”
The tiny heel stoppers, which are available in clear or black, are also popular for use indoors to prevent delicate floors from stiletto dents and eliminate the “clack-clack” noise heels can make on hard floors.
Each pair of Clean Heels Heel Stoppers costs £4.99 and are reusable . Cleanheels.co.uk customers receive a free pack with every order.