With a shared passion for shoes and design, Hamsa and Priyanka started Paaduka, an online footwear and accessories shop in July, 2011. While Priyanka is pursuing her Bachelors in Electronic Media from MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Hamsa has a Bachelors degree in Visual Communication from the same college and is currently working for the e-commerce startup - Shopo.Being best friends who became business partners, these two students from M.O.P.Vaishnav College for Women Chennai decided to start Paaduka over a casual phone conversation. “Before we knew it we had taken the plunge. The love for footwear and design coupled with making a few extra bucks prompted us to start up,” shares Hamsa.
This team of two, targets the young college girls, guys and people with a sense of style. Paaduka is focused on cashing in the need for students took to look stylish in college, look better and get noticed. “Our USP is our capacity to understand our target audience. Being of the same age as our audience we know what they need. Also we price our products in way that students can afford them,” explains Hamsa.
Apart from knowing the pulse of their audience, Paaduka also customizes footwear according to the preferences of their clients. All though a relatively new concept among students in India, the Founders of Paaduka admit to this idea being old in the west. “As to how different we are from our competitors, we try to do something different and not just ape the west. We try to be original,” says Hamsa.Challenges are a part of the entrepreneurial journey and Paaduka have also had their fair share of them. In the beginning, Paaduka faced spamming attacks on their Facebook page. But being selected as one of the top student startup’s in India by TATA and National Entrepreneurship Network has been a milestone that has made them stand apart.
“It is very encouraging when people appreciate your work. Also our college’s support all through this journey is something that we cannot forget. Our friends have been great pillars of strength.”
Initially, the girls walked around their college wearing their designs hoping for word of mouth of marketing to do the magic for them. And it definitely did it for them. Their shoes caught the eye of many girls leading to their first sales. Apart from that, they use Facebook also to market their designs.
Before investing their full energy in Paaduka, the girls are focusing on equipping themselves with practical and theoretical knowledge on design and business. Priyanka plans to pursue her masters in design while, Hamsa is working for a startup. “I am trying to understand the tricks of the trade. Paaduka is already a brand. We feel it. When somebody walks around in our ‘smiley’ chappal, we have heard girls saying ‘oh that’s paaduka’. Paaduka will grow to be one of the country’s leading design brands” concludes Hamsa.
As for their experience as student entrepreneurs and their advice for aspirants, they say starting young is a great thing because you can afford to make mistakes and you can afford to experiment. And in return you get your share of fame, extra bucks and the satisfaction that you are doing something in life. “On the flipside, you need to be more responsible, take ownership and sometimes sacrifice on fun. Sometimes you can’t really go chill with friends when you are working on a client’s order,” shares Hamsa.
What about you guys? Have you got an idea that you are ready to sacrifice all the fun for?
Want to buy a hot pair of shoes? Check out Paaduka.