Devika Srimal decided to stop wearing leather a few years ago. And when she tried to look for good quality, non-leather shoes that were both ‘stylish’ and ‘affordable’, the problems began. She realized that it was difficult to find something in that category and moreover that the footwear industry in India was still largely unorganized.
That’s how the story of Kanabis was borrn, Devika tells us more -
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Delhi and moved to the UK to study and later, work. I always had an entrepreneurial itch since I was a little girl and recently found my calling when I moved back home and identified a gap in the footwear industry. And so I started Kanabis - a brand for fashionable, high quality and animal friendly footwear for women.
Along with work, I am currently doing my MBA from Duke University. I am also a Bharatanatyam dancer- been passionately learning and performing since I was 5.
How did the idea of Kanabis come about?
Ideas are everywhere. Kanabis was one of many business ideas I had, but the first I felt most convinced about, so I took the plunge to execute it.
I gave up leather few years ago and had a tough time finding good non-leather shoes that were stylish, good quality and affordable. I noticed the unstructured footwear industry in India- we either have the non-Indian players that are expensive and mostly do leather shoes or the unorganized/unbranded segment where quality, price, make etc. is questionable. It was almost a light-bulb moment when I thought ‘what the heck, I should start my own brand!’
Your prime products are shoes. Would you be including other product categories in the future?
We are focusing on women’s footwear for now. There is so much we can do in this category. But yes as we grow we would like to expand our product offering.
What makes Kanabis different from other e-commerce sites?
Our website (www.kanbis.in) has a basic design but its aesthetically appealing with very natural photography and genuine content. Many, (not all) e-comm sites have snazzy functions like a live 24/7 Help Chat that don’t work half the time or are slow/inactive with their communication. We aim to keep it simple, functional and customer friendly.
When it comes to setting up an e-commerce venture, what would you say are the biggest challenges?
It’s a lot of work! One has to be on top of it to get noticed, increase traction and convert that into sales. Especially for a consumer product like ours, digital marketing spend can be quite high. Secondly, the operations involved are tedious- logistics, payments, inventory management, dealing with returns/exchanges- so a lot goes on behind the scenes once the customer checks out his/her shopping cart!
Who or from where do you draw your inspiration?
I am fortunate to be born in a family of high achievers. My Dad and brother are workaholics with another level of brain power- wish I had that! And my mom has great sense of style. I bounce all our shoe designs off her for a sense check.
Also selling is quite addictive I feel. It’s thrilling to see a girl wear a pair of Kanabis and appreciate it, and that drives us to do more.
What is an average work-day like for you?
It’s not just a ‘day’- start-ups work best at night!
And each day is different, which keeps it exciting for me. Our footwear designer, Anshul Tyagi, and I work closely together on the designs. We sell online (through our website and other portals) and offline (through other stores and exhibitions/trunk shows), so a significant part of the day, if not all, is consumed in sales mode- (on a good day, ha!) and managing the stocks at the warehouse.
Then I always have a lovely long list of follow ups- our suppliers, our tech team, company admin affairs, etc. In the midst of all this, I have to take out time for my MBA assignments and exams.
Can you leave our readers with some inner thoughts / words of wisdom?
I quit my corporate life at a Big Four accounting firm to sell shoes. People thought it was a crazy move. But to me we have one life, and we need to live it!
By no means am I suggesting you all to quit your jobs, only encouraging you to do what you love :)
See what Kanabis is up to here or follow them on Twitter