Decked out in a black cocktail dress and bright pink stilettos, Hailey Coleman stomped out the competition at the Slaight Communications Business Plan Competition (BPC).
On March 31, the business management graduate won the top prize at the eighth annual competition, receving a $25,000 grant for her company Damn Heels which launched in December.
With two presentations left, Coleman was third in line to present her business plan to a Dragon’s Den-style panel. She created “sexy, fold-up ballerina- style flats tucked into an expandable, reusable bag, small enough to pop into any clutch. Women slip their sore, blistered feet into the softsided flats and their god-forsaken stilettos into the cute reusable bag.”
Damn Heels retail for $20.
The BPC is put together jointly by the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and Start Me Up Ryerson. Students from any faculty can enter.
“Now it’s time to hit the pavement running, it’s time to act,” Coleman said after accepting her oversized cheque at the reception ceremony.
When it came to question time, the tone of the judges shifted from lukewarm to enthusiastic.
Judge Greg Fitzgerald complimented Coleman on her business plan, saying it was “unbelievably well written.” Judge Russell Payson offered to speak with her during the reception, saying he had contacts he could offer her to help her get the company on to the streets. Coleman also received an invitation from host Sean Wise to appear on the real Dragon’s Den.
Coleman was not the only competitor with a fashion-minded proposal — team Valant presented a line of lapel pins. Other finalists had business plans centered on social media marketing and building simulation software.
Dr. Dave Valliere, chair of the entrepreneurship and strategy department, who attended Wednesday night but was not a judge, said the competition was “one of our best competitions ever.”
“It’s exceptional, the amount of thinking she put into it,” Valliere said. “Making a sustainable business takes more than just a clever idea.”
Coleman plans to introduce her line to the nightclub industry, as well as the airline and hospitality industry. And while an option for men doesn’t exist yet, Coleman is working on a unisex line. Damn Heels will be featured in Canadian Living and Elle Canada.