Success Stories:
Her Story Her Way

Women have copious amount of skill and potential to be great entrepreneurs and leaders in any field. As a country we are seeing some amazing work being done by women and as they say this is just the beginning. A little encouragement can reap far greater rewards.  

Brief introduction about yourself and tell us something about your startup “Kanabis”?
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. I am a graduate from University of Warwick and a qualified Chartered Accountant from the UK. Started my career in financial services at Ernst & Young, London followed by a stint at Deloitte, Gurgaon. Along with work, I am currently doing my MBA from Duke University.  

From a qualified Chartered Accountant to setting–up an innovative e-commerce platform. What inspired you to take the turn?
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. As an animal lover and PETA volunteer, 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!’  

How has your journey been and do you plan to expand Kanabis beyond female footwear?
The journey has just started. It’s a lot of work with a lot of late nights and almost no weekends off but also very exciting because we feel its headed in the right direction. We have received very good response for our products so far, which motivates us to stretch ourselves more. We are only 7 months old in the market and have sold around 1500 pairs till date. We are seeing an increase in both- traction on our website and our social media pages and offline sales as well. Our strategy is to bring that something new every season and expand our offering. We are learning from customer feedback and responding to those needs. For instance, in our first collection we had largely high heeled and strappy wedges and although girls loved our prints and styles, few were reluctant to wear 3-4’’ so we launched more flats and smaller heels and slip ons that are super easy to wear.  

What led to the inception of Kanabis and what all challenges did you face while shaping it?
Everything from designing the product, getting the samples and then bulk production right, setting up the sales channels, warehousing and logistics had to be done from scratch. Piecing this together kept me on my toes. Coming from a non-fashion/footwear background, I had to learn on my own and fast. So challenges have been plenty, but it’s a part and parcel of the business.  

Tell us something about your favorite shoe designer and what aparts them?
Stella McCartney- she is an animal rights activist and uses no leather or fur in her products.  

What piece of advice would you like to give to the aspiring youth who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur? I strongly believe in Carpe Diem -‘seize the day’. 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, gotta live it! By no means am I suggesting you all to quit your jobs, only encouraging you to do what you love : )  

According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I think one needs to have the drive to create, make or build something. A lot of people have ideas- but proof lies in execution. It’s a ton of work moving from idea to action stage. Second, is the ability to take risks in some capacity. Businesses do fail, but fear of failure should not deter you from taking that plunge if you truly believe in it. Also resilience is important. Running a company, especially a startup is a moving and dynamic beast so one has to be quick in adapting to different and complex situations.  

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life? Has the family always been supportive?
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 off our shoe designs off her for a sense check. It’s been an exciting year juggling with the start up and the MBA concurrently but my family has been extremely supportive (and patient with my tantrums, ha!)  

What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India?
Strongly agree. Women have copious amount of skill and potential to be great entrepreneurs and leaders in any field. As a country we are seeing some amazing work being done by women and as they say this is just the beginning. A little encouragement can reap far greater rewards.