Carrie Rengers

‘Ellen’ show features Wichitan’s Zsa Zsa Slipper

Ellen DeGeneres sported these sparkly Zsa Zsa Slippers on her show last week. Zsa Zsa creator Jeanne Johnson-Bennett says a segment on DeGeneres’ show five years ago inspired her to start the slipper line.
Ellen DeGeneres sported these sparkly Zsa Zsa Slippers on her show last week. Zsa Zsa creator Jeanne Johnson-Bennett says a segment on DeGeneres’ show five years ago inspired her to start the slipper line. Courtesy photo

Almost five years ago, Jeanne Johnson-Bennett was watching “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” when actress Sofia Vergara was on. DeGeneres had a prop of a fake slipper for Vergara and commented that someone should make a real one.

So Johnson-Bennett did.

“I always had a little bit of a slipper fetish anyway,” she says.

On Oct. 20, DeGeneres featured the slippers during a segment called “Sellin Ellen,” which was about products that viewers would like for her to sell in her on-set gift store.

“I was totally shocked,” Johnson-Bennett says of being included. “It just was, like, really wild. Totally like a dream come true.”

She had jumped on the chance to send her Kickstarter video to DeGeneres for possible use on the segment.

“I’d written her, like, eight times already.”

Johnson-Bennett uses memory foam in her slippers, which she says makes the wearer feel like they’re walking on a mattress.

“They’re not just for in the home,” she says. “They also are just really therapeutic for people who have foot problems. They kind of just nestle your foot inside of that memory foam so you don’t have that pressure.”

She says several varieties of the slippers are named for people who inspired her to start Zsa Zsa Slipper.

“All those people basically just inspired me to follow my dream and totally jump off a cliff.”

DeGeneres featured the Degene-Rossi, which is named for her and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi.

“I don’t know how Portia got in on this,” DeGeneres said to laughter on the show. “She had nothing to do with it.”

DeGeneres played the video of Johnson-Bennett, which features some other Wichitans, including local personality Sierra Scott modeling the slippers.

DeGeneres then tried on the very un-Ellen-like sparkly gold slippers over her socks.

“Oh, they’re very comfortable,” DeGeneres said. “They’re wonderfully comfortable.”

She compared them to walking on foam.

DeGeneres then talked about the price of the slippers, which are for sale at www.zsazsaslipper.com for $99. Except DeGeneres mistakenly said they sell for $200. The audience gasped at the price.

“I know,” DeGeneres said. “She’s probably the same person that priced those EpiPens.”

Johnson-Bennett says people have commented on her Facebook page that DeGeneres owes her a retraction.

“I won’t hold my breath on that,” she says.

Nor is she upset, Johnson-Bennett says.

“I was happy just to have them on there. I’m not complaining.”

She says she “was just blown away” to see her slippers on the show.

“It’s just a great opportunity, obviously, for me to have people see them.”

Johnson-Bennett also has auditioned to be on “Shark Tank.”

Zsa Zsa slippers doesn’t have a distributor yet, but Johnson-Bennett is making a commercial that will appear in Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego and a couple of Florida markets.

She says she’s gotten some online orders from those places, and “I just felt like those markets would be good for my shoe, because they’re blingy and flashy.”

Johnson-Bennett hopes to make boots and sandals, too.

“I just feel like the opportunities are endless.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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