Launchpad: Paaduks, Helping To Keep The Planet Greener One Eco-Friendly Chappal At A Time

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Take a green step every time you walk as Paaduks, a unique social enterprise makes footwear from scrap tyres. Yes you heard that right. We spoke to Kirtana Hariharan, who along with Jay Rege founded Paaduks, about how the idea came to them and the journey so far.

Kirtana Hariharan
Kirtana Hariharan

Introduce us to Paaduks. How did the idea come about and when did you launch?
At Paaduks we handcraft eco-friendly chappals, with soles made from used automobile tyres. We launched this project in mid 2013. The idea came about when one of our team members, Jay Rege was randomly browsing the internet and came across a guy who imported scrap tyres from Indonesia, made chappals out of them and sold them in the US. So we thought, why not do the same in India; where we create positive social impact by empowering local cobblers and artisans by recycling and reusing raw materials for footwear.

How would you describe the vision of Paaduks?
Paaduks vision is the upliftment of its artisans (mochis), by way of providing them with sustainable employment and helping them meet their medical and educational expenses. Profits from our sales will be used towards the fulfilment of this vision.

Jay Rege
Jay Rege

How big is your team? Tell us about them.
Our core team is comprised of Jay Rege who is the original kickstarter of our project. He takes care of the manufacturing and operations processes end to end. I look after communications, marketing, and business development. We are also supported by four other team members – Jothsna Rege, Abhijit Walanj, Venugopal Kartha, and Ankur Mittal – who lend us their time and skills whenever we require.

How are automobile tyres used in making the footwear? Are they ergonomically safe?
Scrap tyres, mainly from trucks, are cut and shaped, and form the sole of the chappal. This along with the uppers, straps and other components are handcrafted into the finished product by our cobblers. Yes, they are ergonomically safe.

Where do you source the tyres from and where are the shoes manufactured?
The tyres are currently sourced from the Govandi’s slum areas, and manufactured in our artisans’ residence/workshops at Thakkar Bappar Colony, Kurla.

What are the benefits given to the craftsmen?
The craftsmen are paid generously for their services. Moreover, profits from sales are used to help them meet medical and education related expenses for their immediate families.

How do you sell – online, on ground?
Most of our sales so far have been offline via personal selling and word-of-mouth. At the moment we maintain minimum inventory and work on demand basis. We plan to drive online sales in the future and are in the process of setting up infrastructure for the same.

How has been the response so far? Your best selling product/design?
The response to concept and cause both has been tremendous. Our product range at the moment is limited, and we are presently augmenting the same. We recently introduced some new models, which are eliciting very favourable responses, particularly from the youth segment.

What has been your biggest challenge while starting out? Is it still a challenge?
One of the biggest challenges is to find craftsmen who are willing to work with scrap tyres. Most of them failed to see the environmental benefits of recycling scrap tyres, and were of the opinion that when regular rubber or plastic soles were easily available, why take all the trouble of cutting scrap tyres and making soles out of them. But thanks to the efforts of our team in ‘educating’ these cobblers, more are beginning to come around and appreciate the benefits of using scrap rubber. So we hope that this doesn’t remain a challenge forever!

What was the best and worst advice you received while starting out?
I can’t think of any in particular. But we do receive calls from friends and family asking if we would be interested in taking their old car tyres. So far we have politely declined such offers
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Resources no bar, if there is one thing you could change or enhance about your business what would it be?
Get a workshop-cum-office where we could house our cobblers and supervise them, thus helping us to increase efficiency and speed up production, and thereby scale-up faster.

And no matter how much money is at stake what is the one thing that you will never compromise on?
We started Paaduks with a twofold objective, namely positive social impact by way of enhancing the standard of living of our cobblers, as well as doing our part to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint by recycling used tyres. No matter how much we grow, these two pillars will remain unchanged.

What’s the next step for Paaduks? What more can consumers expect?
We are slowly augmenting our product line and looking to contract more craftsmen to increase scale of production. Customers will have many more designs to choose from. We also plan to increase the points of sale by strategically aligning with footwear dealers, artisanal handicrafts shops, emporiums, exhibitions and and other such alliances.

What advice would you like to give other budding young entrepreneurs?
We consider ourselves budding entrepreneurs as well, but if there is one thing we would like to share, it is that the startup ecosystem in India is bubbling and brimming with innovative but purely commercial enterprises. Given we face a myriad of social issues in our country, there is almost a desperate need for more social entrepreneurs to enter the ecosystem. Thinking about the triple bottom line is critical. Businesses can make money and do social good as well. It need not be mutually exclusive.

If you want to sport one of their creations, call 9820702598 or visit www.paaduks.com. You can also view their facebook page here and twitter here.

Post By Syrah (76 Posts)

Always curious, writing was something she discovered accidentally which she now enjoys. Loves reading fiction, dislikes staying idle and enjoys spontaneous trips or treks over weekends.

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Syrah

Syrah
Always curious, writing was something she discovered accidentally which she now enjoys. Loves reading fiction, dislikes staying idle and enjoys spontaneous trips or treks over weekends.