Neeman’s, known for launching merino wool shoes, was conceptualized in the US, but the journey in India started in 2017. Before that, co-founders Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet Singh took their time to learn shoe-making and figure out how to select suitable raw materials. They traveled to different shoe manufacturing hubs worldwide to learn about shoes and were surprised to know that most shoes were made with materials that were not eco-friendly.
“That’s when we were sure that Neeman’s shoes would be made of natural materials, and we zeroed in Australian Merino wool. It took us around 22 months from concept to design, and finally manufacturing and the launch,” says Taran Chhabra, Founder & CEO, Neeman’s.
“We launched the website in December 2018, and in the 20 months of our journey post-launch, there have been many exciting rides. Within a year of our launch, we have educated millions of consumers across the country on why natural materials and sustainable fibers are the future in wearables and fashion. Furthermore, our customers have been our most prominent advocates and our re-order rate of over 20 percent within a short period speaks volumes of why our customers love us,” he adds.
The USP of the brand lies in the fact that it is India’s first brand in footwear that uses natural and renewable merino wool from Australia, plant-based castor bean oil, recycled rubber, and waste paper in making shoes.
“Our mission at Neeman’s is to provide our customers with style, comfort, and an eco-friendly pair that brings joy to them and the environment,” says Chhabra.
Idea Behind Launching The Brand
Taran Chhabra was always a shoe aficionado. Even during his student days, different trends and designs available in the international market fascinated him. This interest grew more when he moved to the US to work. Before Neeman’s, he was heading Business Analysis for a top MNC, which allowed him to travel the globe for professional and leisure purposes. However, deep in his heart, he always wanted to return to India and start something of his own, a business with a cause.
“The eureka moment for starting Neeman’s finally arrived during a trip to Spain, over three years ago, with my now co-founder, Amar Preet Singh. We both were busy packing, or shall I say over-packing, not on clothes but our shoes, five different pairs - running shoes, formal and casual footwear, a lounging shoe, and an extra pair just in case. That’s when I thought - Why do I need so many shoes? Why can’t I have one shoe for all day? So, I started looking for it but didn’t find one,” he shares.
“However, I didn’t give up the pursuit and took a step towards the magnificent journey of crafting a shoe that fulfilled the market gap. Neeman’s shoes surpassed in all-day comfort and made of renewable materials,” he adds.
Betting Big on D2C
Footwear in India has an enormous possibility online. With e-commerce penetrating and people adopting this lesser-explored yet convenient means of shopping, the market is considerable.
“The D2C category has worked for us because rather than asking our customers to come to us, we made an effort to reach them by giving them options to shop from our website or social media platforms and even Amazon now. Moreover, we have a no-questions-asked return and refund policy, making it easier for them to purchase without worry. For now, we are happy with D2C, though we are looking at an omnichannel presence in times to come,” he says.
The brand has always relied heavily on content and has used content marketing in various B2B and B2C platforms to reach the TG.
“We have used the power of content to show different videos of the products, their features, and how different and better they are. We will continue to rely on the content as we scale to newer categories, styles, geographies. We intend to showcase why our new-age brand is better and its unique features,” he states.
Impact of Pandemic
Like most businesses, Neeman’s saw a dip in sales, but rather than worrying about that, it worked on improving the internal processes, the existing range of shoes and focussed more on product development.
“Since the beginning of Covid-19, we have witnessed over 5x growth. We have also been fortunate to have a clientele of celebrities and start-up founders and our product is being appreciated by people living in Tier I, II cities and metros,” states Chhabra.
Being a growing company, funding is always on Neeman’s radar.
“We will use the funds for product innovation, research, and as we are growing, even for expanding our team,” he concludes.