A team that is helping you become both environment friendly and fashionable at the same time! Have you tried any of these amazing shoes made out of old tyres? Read more to know how Paaduks is making the best use of scrap tyres and helping cobblers too.
Being environment friendly is responsible. Serving a social cause is noble. How about doing both?
In early 2013 Jay Rege was looking for an idea for his second business venture, when he read about a person who imported scrap tyres from Indonesia, made chappals out of them and sold them in the US. He was instantly inspired and decided not only to adopt the idea but also to augment it with his vision of social empowerment of local cobblers. Thus was born Paaduks in mid-2013.
More than an enterprise, Paaduks is a unique initiative that attempts making beautiful handcrafted footwear from used automobile tyres and sharing the profits with cobblers that make them. Paaduks is also a journey that begins from the constrained confines of the workshop in the slums of Thakkar Bappa colony at Chembur and ends as financial assistance for healthcare and educational needs of the cobblers and their families.
The business model is simple given the ease and cost effectiveness of the local supply chain, is scalable in sales volumes due to a multitude of retail channels and has a robust potential to provide employment and fair remuneration to the cobbler community.
Currently Paaduks is jointly managed by a cheerful team of husband-wife duo, Jay & Jothsna Rege, and their associate Megha Rawat. Everything from marketing & sales, sourcing, production and distribution is divided amongst the Paaduks trio.
It’s about the shoe
Being eco-friendly and ethical is the core philosophy of Paaduks. Every pair of footwear produced uses up cycled or already used automobile or airplane rubber tyre as soles. This is very beneficial for the environment. How?
Well, used existing tyres obviate the need to produce new rubber at factories and thus help reduce the associated pollution. Intellectuals call this carbon footprint and Paaduks is helping decrease this footprint. Also the materials used for the upper part of the shoe are not made from animal products.
Materials such as vegan leather, jute, cotton fabric with vegetable prints and canvas are some of the materials that go into forming a Paaduks pair. All of these are sourced by them from different markets within Mumbai.
Every quarter Paaduks comes up with a collection of seven to eight designs. Currently Paaduks has lined up a collection of nine designs – two for men and seven for women, all made from jute or cotton fabric. They will be retailing these at some of the specialty retail stores in different cities.
Apart from selling their shoes through their website, Paaduks will soon be e-tailing them on Snapdeal and Fabpanda. Participation in consumer exhibitions is one of the key channels of promotion for them.
Caring for the cobblers
Eco-friendly shoes are just one half of the Paaduks story. The other half is about the cobblers that make these shoes. Nagraj Singhadia is the chief cobbler who works with a team of daily wage helpers in his cluttered 8 x 10 workshop in the narrow lanes of Thakkar Bappa colony at Chembur.
Individual cobblers at the colony always remain in penury because they are forced to sell their shoes to local wholesalers or traders at very low prices and are often arm twisted to do so owing to their economic backwardness.
Since its inception, Paaduks has been working to change these terms of trade. It pays Nagraj and his cobblers thrice the market-accepted making charges per pair.
Paaduks realizes that it’s the cobblers that are the backbone of its business and deserve to be remunerated fairly for their work. Paaduks team also provides financial assistance to the cobblers’ families for their healthcare, educational and emergency needs. Cobblers are major partners in the entrepreneurial story of Paaduks.
Challenges and Way ahead
This entrepreneurial story now needs to expand. This means it needs to produce more, sell more, find a bigger place for its cobblers to work and offer avant-garde product choices to its customers.
Having professional designers on board will spruce up Paaduks’ collections because ultimately aesthetics score higher than a social cause when competing for the customer’s wallet.
Also being available on multiple channels viz online and brick & mortar stores simply helps reach more customers and increase brand visibility. All this requires money and Paaduks is definitely on a hunt.
Paaduks team holds a bigger vision of not only manufacturing footwear but also someday diversifying into other ecofriendly products whilst financially supporting craftsmen and their families that make them.
It is this dual aim of being environmentally conscious and providing sustainable livelihood to the economically marginalized but skilled sections of the society that’s the raison d’être to the founders of Paaduks and they are steadily on course.