"Every 'nude' [shoe] I found was a pop of color against my brown skin." —The founder on launching her namesake shoe brand and building an inclusive space for women in the workplace.
What does the Rebecca Allen brand stand for?
We are committed to providing our customers with timelessly sophisticated shoes that fit well and feel great and take you to all of the amazing places you're going.
The rise in shade-inclusive brands is a long time coming. What sparked your decision to fill that void in the shoe department?
I had been searching for [a nude pump] ever since I got to the working world. It was the shoe that lived under my white colleagues' desks because it just went with everything, [but] every "nude" I found was a pop of color against my brown skin. And then there were white friends' weddings and being asked to be a bridesmaid and wear a "nude sandal"—and even wanting something that I would wear again for my own wedding. I just got to a place where I needed the shoe that badly.
How does being a woman, a mother and a professional influence your design?
I need to be able to wrangle my toddler without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction, and I need to look appropriate for different business settings throughout my day. I want our customers to still feel effortless on days when they have to "do it all."
Why is supporting advancement of women in the workplace a pillar of your brand?
Women, and particularly women of color, have to navigate so much extra nonsense in the workplace. I just wanted to remove one headache for them when we first launched with the New Pump.
You left a career at Goldman Sachs to launch your brand. What advice would you give to others chasing their dreams?
If you are thinking about starting a business, make a plan and get going. Take that first step. I thought about my business for almost a decade before I started to make a plan. I could have been in build mode so much sooner!
When it comes to dismantling systemic racism, how can we help encourage momentum in the right direction?
I think being comfortable having "uncomfortable" conversations is key to keeping up momentum. Don't let missteps or awkward moments keep you from continuing these conversations. It's essential to making progress.
What's one action you wish everyone would take to be a better ally to women? To people of color?
Keep going. Don't take a rest or become desensitized. Believe that your individual actions can—and do—make a difference.