Two students target the personalized product space between standardized and expensive designer brands by launching their own version of hand-painted, customized shoes based on individual customer preferences. by Gauri Shah
But before 21-year-old fashion student Laksheeta Govil could celebrate the buy, she discovered the price wasn’t an affordable Rs. 2,000. The price tag was missing a zero, the guy at the cash counter said.
That’s when the third-year student from the Pearl Academy of Fashion, Delhi, decided she would make a pair for herself. And she did, at a fraction of that price.
Govil bought a pair of white canvas shoes and painted them, developing the design as she went along, with licks of pink and orange flames stretching across. It took her a little over two hours.
That design, reproduced several times over the last year, is called fiery fiesta—one of the best-selling designs from Fizzy Goblet, the brand of hand-painted, customized designer shoes Govil and her friend Abhinav Mehra, a 21-year-old business management student, launched in February 2010.
Mehra had decided to use his project from a business plan competition to help Govil launch her line of hand-painted shoes.
The plan, which was a blueprint for the production, marketing and sale of customized bags, was tweaked to suit Govil’s requirements. The duo discussed the potential of entering the personalized product space with T-shirts and shoes among other things, but picked shoes as they saw a gap in the market.
“We had seen the success of the customized T-shirt model in India. Everyone had their own, print-on-T-shirt thing going on, but the space was really saturated. That’s when we came up with the idea of launching customized hand-painted shoes,” said Mehra, explaining that while there were standardized shoes such as “the Nikes of the world” on one end of the spectrum, and expensive designers brands such as Ed Hardy on the other, there was nothing in between. “We thought we should try and bridge that gap,” he said.
The duo ran a pilot study by handing out shoes to their friends, who would wear the product and come back to them with feedback. While Govil would handle product design and development, with a focus on creating new designs, sourcing canvas shoes, paints, laces, and training employees, Mehra would focus on business development and marketing.
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