We’ve recently discovered that, not only is Skype used by fashion designers to expand client bases, but we’re also responsible for alleviating excruciating foot pain. We caught up with fashion entrepreneur Bing Cai of Alouit New York about high heels, empowerment and how Skype helps women walk taller.
Alouit New York is in the business of empowering women to look beautiful and feel confident. They do this by creating comfortable Italian stilettos. Yes, you read correctly. Bing tells us that there is actually such a thing as comfortable high heels:
“There are 3 main areas that women struggle with: excruciating pain, stability control, and quality heels that last. Heels have been made in the same way for hundreds of years.”
It’s hard to imagine heels that are as comfortable as they are beautiful, but here’s the proof. We asked her how she figured this out.
“I’ve worked in fashion in NYC for more than a decade, and I’ve had to wear high heels every day; it’s an industry expectation. I grew up dancing ballet, and learned to bind and cushion my feet to support the weight of my body as I turned and jumped. It’s a painful sport that has to look graceful. I started to cushion, stretch, and rubberize the bottoms of my luxury designer high heels so that I could last all day with minimal discomfort, feel confident, and perform well at work. Then I realized, wait, why doesn’t this product exist in the market?”
Bing admits that as a girl, she was always fascinated by fashion. But being a nerdy girl with, in her own words, a “terrible sense of style, bushy eyebrows and visible upper lip hair”, she was always expected to become an investment banker by her parents.
So what’s an aspiring young fashion entrepreneur to do?
“I made a compromise with my parents—they wanted me to go to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School to become an investment banker. I wanted to study fashion design at Parsons. The compromise was to go to NYU Stern School of Business while being able to work in fashion in NYC as I had always dreamed.”
At 19, Bing bagged a sales and marketing intern position at IMG Fashion, the producers of Fashion Week around the world. After graduating college, she joined the Executive Training Program at Macy’s where she learned merchandise buying, merchandise planning, product development and manufacturing. Next came the opportunity to use these skills at Guess Watches international where she taught global distributors in 56 countries how to increase their sales, margin, turnover, and bottom line profitability. Then, after working for marketing powerhouse Nike, Bing gained the knowledge of how to build a successful brand. Now, as well as running Alouit, Bing can also be found coaching people on how to establish their very own fashion startup.
Since Alouit New York produces out of Italy, we imagine that many concepts can be lost in translation. Bing tells us how she discovered Skype Translator:
“When we are in the factory, there’s usually someone that can speak a little bit of English. We’ve had situations where we were using another translator service to translate a few words at a time, it was a really ineffective way to work.”
Bing continues: “As soon as we got back to NYC, we looked for a better way to communicate with our factories in real time, and that’s when we found Skype Translator—and we would like to extend a huge thank you to the entire Skype Translator team.”
For Bing and her team, it’s critical to communicate with their partners at the Italian factories on a daily basis. Often holding up a shoe, pointing at it and then following up with CAD files through Skype’s file sharing function ensures concepts become a beautiful reality.
It seems fitting that a product as revolutionary as Skype Translator is helping create something as defiant as comfortable high heeled shoes:
“The ability to translate in real time is incredible, it’s like being able to speak another language without the learning curve. Speaking someone’s language not only minimizes miscommunication, but also helps to create a strong emotional bond; relationships are critical for our success.”
So if Skype Translator didn’t exist, what would be the options?
“I can’t think of another piece of software that is
- Free (critical for a startup)
- Translates in real time on conference call
- Can send large files over its messenger function
- Is a brand I trust
- Translates messages.”
And that “personal” feel of talking one-to-one, is that lost through technology?
“The beauty of Skype Translator is that we’re able to visually see our partners and hear them converse in their native language. Technology has enabled us to feel closer. This trust is very helpful as we are an early stage startup working with the same factories that produce for Tod’s, Louboutin, and Jimmy Choo. We’re small players in a big well-established field.”
Bing says her inspiration comes from Sara Blakely, the designer whose success she would most like to emulate. And with a wish list of clients including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg, Bing confesses she would never stop smiling if her shoes were worn by such powerful and inspiring women. So it’s actually no surprise when she confesses that the designs of her shoes are inspired by powerful women who wear heels and enhance their confidence.
And what about that age old question? Can a woman ever have too many shoes?
“Actually, yes! There are a number of reasons why women buy new shoes. Their current heels are painful, or they wore through their favorite pair are two of the reasons. Alouit heels will last for many decades with proper care. We also have an environmental mission. By creating high heels that last, we are reducing consumers’ dependency on fast fashion.”
So beauty, comfort and conscience come together to create a world first: heels that are comfy, as well as hot! Alouit are launching this fall. Check out their website to find out more.
To learn more about how to set up Skype Translator please visit the Skype Translator FAQs.