The story of a student entrepreneur who is using her brush strokes to transform boring shoes and also inspire budding student entrepreneurs, with her venture 'Art & Soul'.Praachi Jain
Love Minions? How about getting them on your shoes….or spiderman? or your favourite quirky quotes?
Meet Shilpa Agrawal, 22 year old founder of Art & Soul, based in Surat, who specialises in creating customised hand painted shoes, wallets, jute sandals and stilettos.
Birth of A&S
Every girl and even guy these days wants to stand out with their footwear. Whether its a pair of white sneakers or even kolhapuris- youth these days always put their fashionable ‘feet’ forward, and this is exactly how A&S was born. Shilpa’s desire to wear funky, creative yet comfortable and modern shoes led to the idea of A&S.
An alumnus of Auro University Surat, Shilpa says the idea came to her when she was briefly in Narsee Monjee Institute Mumbai. “I always wanted to wear fancy shoes and then also came across a shoe painting competition which made me realise the general inclination of today's youth towards such creative merchandises,” says the BBA graduate with an artistic penchant.
Towards making it a reality
Pursuing her idea of making A&S a reality, she got started and sourced 2 supplies- white shoes and painting essentials. She wore a pair of hand painted shoe for the entire year, to check its durability in all the seasons- Yes girls, one shoe for 365 days. Well, thats what makes her a successful young entreprenuer. The shoes were perfectly fine and Shilpa got a professional photo shoot done, featuring few of her hand painted pair of shoes. Facebook page and Instagram page were created and made live!!! Today, A&S is a flourishing venture with only Fb, Instagram and word of mouth publicicty. ‘Social Media has made business really easy, or at least the marketing part for sure. It is a huge motivation, when your friends and family appreciate and promote your work on a platform like Fb or Instagram, says Shilpa.
Women Power and Skill
Another drive to get A&S started was to be financially independent and not depend on her family for her regular expenses like- travelling, shopping etc. Shilpa also had a strong inclination towards entrepreneurship as being a business student, she had numerous interactions with young start-up founders and entrepreneurs. Moreover, business and being her own boss is in her blood, as she hails from a Marwari family who are known to have great business acumen.
"I wouldn't let go opportunities reflecting women power and skills, A&S is one of them." says a confident Shilpa, who believes education and skill training, both are equally important for women to be financially independent and confident.
Balancing studies and Work
Shilpa laughingly says that managing work and studies together is much easier than studies alone. “Our mind needs all kinds of food to function and be happy, creativity is my fuel to be happier and hence I am able to focus on academics equally well.”
Shilpa, who will be soon leaving for Delhi to prepare for UPSC exams, used to work from home and has also trained 3 girls from a local fine arts college who will be contributing to continue A&S, when Shilpa will be out of Surat.
“Art & Soul basically channels the clients’ creativity by bringing it onto their shoes, wallets or stilettos”, says Shilpa, as she has also introduced customised hand painted wallets, jute sandals and stilettos which are hugely popular among couples and youngsters in general. Recently A&S has also introduced a range of cool bow ties, which she has sourced from her father’s textile firm.
Shilpa can transform your plain white VANS or TOMS into a beautiful piece of art as ‘she sees a Canvas where we see Shoes.’
Shilpa is a great inspiration for students who aspire to have a startup while studying and pursue it later as their future career. She encourages students like her not to be afraid of chasing their passions and turning it into an actual entity. "Perseverance and hard work are the only two ingredients for survival and success follows", she says with a smile.