How To Start Your Morning Like The CEO Of A Fashion Brand

Samantha Dong is the Founder and CEO of Ally Shoes, an innovative, fashion brand designed for women by women. Ally is renowned for designing pain-free heels for power women. After a foot injury, Samantha couldn’t find heels that wouldn’t hurt, so she teamed up with the best creative minds and podiatric experts to design stylish heels for all women. She is passionate about empowering women through fashion and making luxury footwear more accessible for women on the move.

Previously, Samantha worked in Operations and Product Management at OrderAhead (which was acquired by Square). She also spent time in Strategy and Operations at Deloitte Consulting and the Investment Management Division at Goldman Sachs. She graduated from Cornell University and received her MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

What time do you wake up in the morning and how do you wake up? 

6:30 am with an alarm.

What’s on your bedside table?

Cell phone, the book I’m reading, jewelry box

Do you prepare for your mornings the night before? If so, how?

I look at my to-do list for the next day.

What are your skincare/body care rituals?

Morning: Cleanser, moisturizer

Night: Cleanser, serum, night cream, eye cream

Once a week: Exfoliate

What does your morning routine flow look like?

6:30 am-7 am: Morning meditation, light workout (yoga, stretch, light cardio)

7 am-7:30 am: Shower

7:30 am-8 am: Eat breakfast while reading news

When do you kick off your workday? And do you have any starting-work rituals?

Around 8 am. I start by going through my inbox, and respond to emails that are urgent or quick to respond. For those that aren’t as urgent or require more time, I will put them on my to-do list for the day.

How does your morning routine change on the weekends?

On weekends, I wake up at around 7:30-8 am, and spend more time reading in the morning.

What does your mindset look like at the beginning of the day? Do you have any tips or tools for getting in a good mindset?

When I first wake up, I tend to still be a bit groggy. Starting my day with some meditation and light workout (with calming music) helps me ease into the day and clear my mind to get ready for the day.

What’s non-negotiable vs. what does an extra-luxurious morning look like?

Breakfast is non-negotiable and the smell of fresh coffee in the morning also signals to me the day is starting. Usually, I will make myself a simple yogurt parfait.

An extra-luxurious morning will involve a full breakfast with fried eggs, toast, home-made cafe au lait, and extra time to read a book while enjoying my breakfast.

What would you like to improve with your mornings?

Ideally, I would love to wake up even earlier, so I can have more “me time” to read or brainstorm new ideas before diving into my inbox and lengthy to-do list.

What’s your #1 recommendation to others who struggle with mornings?

Training myself to wake up early has been the biggest improvement I’ve made to my daily routine. I realized that I’m not as productive at night, so instead of scrolling through my phone or trying to get more work done, I decided to go to bed an hour early and wake up an hour early. As a result, I no longer felt rushed in the morning and created more mental space for myself.

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