How 'Vegan' is an upcoming trend in footwear category?

In an exclusive conversation with Shweta, Founder, PAIO talks about operational challenges in vegan category.
 How ‘vegan’ is an upcoming trend in footwear category?

How  PAIO shoes started? Also shed light on your entrepreneur journey? 

As a teenager, I used to be extremely shy. As a result the first thing I noticed about people were their ‘shoes’. However my true fascination with shoes began when I was in college. As a way to pass time, I began to draw various shoe designs and ended up with hundreds of them by the time I graduated. As such, when I graduated, the first thing I wanted to do was make my own shoes. I began scouting for good Cordwainers in the city and PAIO was born. As we launched our first collection in 2016, we realised a big gap in the market - 'The human mind'. Each of us are individuals, with different tastes, habits, expectations! It became imperative that we could provide shoes for each and every woman! Hence, we decided to add the 'customisation' factor in our shoes! Each PAIO shoe can be completely customised right from colour changes, heel height modifications, comfort levels and size requirements.

What is the thought process behind vegan shoes? What is the market size as far as vegan shoes are convened?

Since I was a child, I have been in love with animals (not just dogs & cats). There was no thought process as such. It was simple. There is no need for an animal to sacrifice their life for your shoes. As such, we found alternatives in the form of synthetic leathers and various fabrics that make for exceptional shoes! The market size is definitely increasing. As awareness increases, people automatically choose to not use leather! 

 We've had customers who have now become our loyal customers simply because we choose to not use leather.

What is your current distribution in online as well as offline space. Also, going forward, what would be the strategy to scale up the distribution?

In the online space, we sell through our website. We also sell online through Jabong, ShopperStop and many other portals. Offline, we have our studio space in Prabhadevi where we meet clients for custom shoe orders! We also stock with several boutiques across the country.  

What are the major retailing challenges as far as this category of shoes are concerned?

In an industry where price plays a major selling point, we are challenged with the need for a lower price point for our shoes. Another challenge is inventory management. In footwear, it is imperative that we have sizes available for our shoes. With hundreds of designs and sizes, it is important to have proper storage and management of each shoe as it is necessary to maintain the quality. 

Who do you see as your potential competition within this space?

We consider all footwear brands to be competition, But not in a bad sense. We admire them and love how they have grown and learn from them.

Kindly shed light on your price points.

Our shoes range is priced anywhere between Rs.1500 to Rs. 4000. For custom orders, the range is between Rs. 2200 to Rs. 5000 depending on the style and modifications required! 

Do you also operate in kids' space? if yes, kindly provide the details?

We currently do not have any collections in the kids space. However, we can make shoes for kids on custom orders.                 

What are the manufacturing challenges as far as vagan shoes are concerned? Also, being vegan in nature do your products come with limited shelf life?

There have been no challenges working with synthetic leathers and fabrics. In fact we believe its an advantage to work with fabrics. Our new collection is designed completely with fabrics sourced from Jaipur and Udaipur.

We personally do not believe it limits the shelf life of shoes. As with all things precious, you must take care of what you love. With all PAIO products, our customers receive shoe bags and boxes. We recommend that the shoes stay stored in our cloth bags. With fabric shoes, a good wipe down once a month will help keep the shoes clean and dirt free! 

Have you raised any sorts of funds so far or plan to?

We have not yet raised any funds for the brand. We are 100% self-funded.

At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?

Our aim is to be a premier shoe brand in India that believes in the concept of 'made to measure'.  Apart from increasing sales through our website, our goal is to partner with the top online and offline fashion brands and designers to increase visibility and promote the concept of 'made to measure'.