Meet Sofi Newmyer—the delightful and amazing founder of Ma’am Shoes. After a decade in the footwear business, Sofi decided to design shoes that she actually wanted to wear—shoes that don’t take such a toll on the planet and your feet. Because she's a genius, she analyzed and tested heel height, width and more to create a wildly comfortable shoe that us ladies can "walk the walk" in. I gotta tell you, this Ma'am put on a pair of her signature heels when we met, and I have not taken them off since, Sofi is a lady of her word!
Melissa: Your brand was born and made in LA. What is so interesting about the city? Is it inspiring to you? What is one of the reasons you started the brand?
Sofi: I am from LA – I would call myself the biggest LA defender in the world, I don’t have an issue with traffic, the weather is amazing, my family is here…I deeply love LA. I was so excited to create a shoe company that was a love song to the city. I wanted to create comfortable, elevated, everyday shoes that could be made here. 95% of all shoes are made in China and that is because making shoes is an intense process. Shoes have an upper, mid-sole, a heel, there is glue—there is every single type of material. A single pair of shoes goes through twenty different hands— it is really labor intensive. Finding a factory in LA is really hard, but we are lucky there are great ones in the city. In order to be an LA brand you need to support local artisans and craftsmen/women. I feel incredibly lucky to be making products in LA, it is such a richer story, and it says so much more about our shoes. Selfishly for me, I can go to the factory all the time. It is deeply personal and hands on and I can only do that because I am in the city.
Melissa: Was there a time in your life where you decided to make shoes that are much more friendly to your lifestyle? How did you decide to do that?
Sofi: The whole concept behind the shoes was “how do you chose shoes that are comfortable and stylish?”. It seems like you always have to chose one of the other, especially in a business setting. I didn’t want my feet to be in pain or for it to look like I was wearing house slippers. I remember being in these uncomfortable high heels that looked so cute, and I was leaving a meeting and really wanted to talk to my boss, and I couldn’t catch up with him, because my feet were killing me. I missed the moment and I think about all those missed moments.
Melissa: I never thought of it like that.
Sofi: The world is so much harder for women, let’s not hurt our feet in the process! I wanted to make a shoe where woman didn’t need to choose between style and comfort, they could do both. We spent a long time crafting the perfect heel to do that—and that is exactly the height that is at the maximum height that is not killing your feet in the process, which is 55 cm which is just over 2 inches. We are working on different styles, but we are seeing how our audience react to different styles of shoes…like a boot. With each boot purchase we give $10 dollars to support Baby2Baby.
I deeply love LA. I wanted to create comfortable, elevated, everyday shoes that could be made here.
Melissa: Amazing. How often do you choose the charities?
Sofi: I worked at TOMS for a decade before this. It was my first job out of college—when I started it was a tiny startup and then got bigger and bigger. My first three years there our sales tripled each year. At the end of my time there I ended up overseeing all our partnerships and that included giving partners and the non-profits that we were doing work with. What I wanted to do (and because we are speaking to the progressive woman who likely lives in a city), I wanted to do a give back program that spoke to her. We look at organizations that aid the civic, social, and professional advancement of women—I am a voter, Baby2Baby…etc. have done so much to support families and mothers during COVID and beyond. As we get older as a business, I want to keep pushing what it means to be a little bit progressive and political in the process. Every season we will partner with different organization, and we have one shoe that will support their work. It is great to support organizations that speak to and are run by women.
Melissa: I think it is so important to have social awareness around what you are doing it and having that be part of your brand. It is also very authentic to you as a person. How often do you launch new shoes?
Sofi: It is every 6 months, roughly. We only launched last September in 2020, so we are just over a year old! It has been an interesting year—I wouldn’t recommend starting a new brand in the middle of a pandemic. I didn’t think we would still be working from home, but I have a nice office so I can’t complain.
Melissa: Now that we are hopefully coming out of the pandemic—where are you going to travel to? Where do you want to get out in the world to?
Sofi: I personally want to go to Europe, just the idea of going somewhere is so nice. We have been so comfortable in our bubble. I can’t wait to just get outside of what we know. I have wanted to go to Paris for three years now.
Melissa: You must go – I went in September. I highly recommend. I felt so happy being there.
Sofi: I feel so grateful that there is still joy and hope. I do think that these are the right shoes to transition back into the world. We have been in Birkenstocks for a year and a half, but this is the perfect shoe to feel like you are trying a little. Let’s transition back to what life really is.
Melissa: Tell us where you are selling?
Sofi: We are selling online and at my friends store Trovata and they are in Newport Beach and have amazing women’s wear clothing.
Melissa: What is coming out next?
Sofi: We are working on a sandal which is going to be the comfiest sandal you’ve ever worn. It is made with plush foam that molds to your feet. It isn’t a Birkenstock but feels like a Birkenstock. Looks like a pump and it is something I wish I had for the last year. The days of a high heel are done. You shouldn’t have to race your boss and miss the moment.
Melissa: No more missed moments in those heels! Thanks so much for your time.