A Q&A with Yosi Samra

yosi samra fold-up flats
photography courtesy of Yosi Samra

You’ve seen his fold-up flats on the feet of nearly every celeb imaginable. (Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Jessica Alba, the list goes on.) Google Yosi Samra’s name and his own picture rarely appears. Just gobs of starlets running errands in their skinny jeans, scarves, and colorful ballet slippers. I own a pair (in floral print) and I totally get the obsession. They’re comfy, convenient, under $100 a pop, and come in an unreasonable amount of colors and prints. And now, they’re more Dallas-y than ever. CEO Yosi Samra has just relocated to Preston Hollow. I got a chance to sit down with him last week and talk Big D, the crazy success of his three-year-old brand, and his really cute Pomeranian, Dexter. Take a look. (And then stay tuned for Friday’s giveaway.)

Yosi Samra
photography courtesy of Yosi Samra

ShopTalk: Where did the idea for fold-up flats come from?
Yosi Samra: It came from actually being out a lot, being involved in nightlife and just seeing, every single night, girls taking off their shoes and carrying them or just walking barefoot. I’ve seen girls cut their feet on glass at a bar or a club, so that’s really where it stemmed from.

My dad’s been in the shoe business for years, so I grew up in it. I ran his warehouse when I was sixteen years old. I did invoicing, I did sales, and for me, that was the best schooling I could have. Just being involved and learning every aspect of the business.

I didn’t sleep for the for the first few years. When I launched this company, it was just me. I started out in my parents’ basement, launching yosisamra.com, which is how it originally started. I spent a year pretty much underground, building the site, and then we just launched with a bang [in 2009].

On the brand today…
It’s crazy how fast we’ve grown. We have our own stores internationally, we have franchises in Saudi Arabia, we’re opening up in Dubai, we have them in the Philippines, Korea, Taiwan… Our distribution now is in 85 countries. It’s a global brand. We’ve been around for 3 years.

Who was the first celebrity to wear your shoes?
January Jones was our first celebrity. I remember, she was coming out of yoga. She had a pink mat.

How many styles do you carry?
I think we added up about 400 to 500 different colors that we’ve made so far. Right now I think we have about 300 different colors in stock.

If you wore a pair of your own shoes, which ones would you choose?
I actually like the animal prints. I’m into the snake print. But now we’re launching men’s for next spring.

So what’s that going to look like?
We’ll have a mix of sneakers, smoking flats, espadrille flats, and sandals. So, we’re going to start small with that collection and it’s going to tie into our women’s trends with the same colors. (Next season we’re doing just a lot of solid colors.)

On moving to Dallas…
Everyone asks, “Do you miss New York?” I miss certain parts of it–I miss my office most–but besides that, there’s great food here, great restaurants, great people, great nightlife… Dallas has really become our strongest market in the U.S. right now. People here are, from what I’ve seen, happier, in general.

On favorite Dallas spots…
For sushi, I kind of fell in love with Shinsei. I’ve been to Neighborhood Services, which is great. I’ve learned about Mustang Donuts and JD’s Cookies, too.

How do you spend your free time in Dallas?
I just bought a house in Preston Hollow. Definitely exciting, keeping me busy. The season’s starting, so I’ll be pretty much traveling every week, every month somewhere. I’m doing a Europe tour in October and an Asia tour in November and December, so I’m just pretty much living on an airplane.

From a business perspective, what has moved here with you?
Just me and Dexter, my Pomeranian. He’s two. He loves it. He goes outside and barks at the birds.