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What do you do when the product you have been looking for in malls and shops and high streets, just don’t fit you perfectly?
They say necessity is the mother of invention.
When two childhood friends in Sydney, 4ft 11 inches tall Pradhima Shyamsunder and 5ft 10 inches tall Kuppal Palaniappan, struggled to find shoes that would fit them correctly, they decided to take matters in their own hands.
Shopping for shoes in Australia for size 5 and 11 was a difficult exercise for them.
“The idea of starting a shoe store for women with larger feet came to me when I was 18," says Kuppal, who works with Deloitte Consulting in Sydney. "But I sat on the idea for a long time."
"After telling Pradhima one evening that I was planning to start my own shoe business, it got us thinking. How great would it be start a brand that not only catered for small shoes but also larger shoes?”
Pradhima meanwhile had been selling petite size shoes under the banner of 'Teacup Shoes' for a few years and was ready to take it to next level.
“During my time selling petite shoes, I saw that there were also women with large feet struggling with the same issue," says Pradhima, who works with Social Ventures Australia.
"I’d known Kuppal since I was 10 and she had shared with me about her idea to start a shoe company for women with large feet. We then decided to become business partners and Soleful Shoes was launched to cater for both sides of the market – big feet and small feet.”
And so Soleful Shoes was born.
They got in touch with Divya J Sethuram from Plumtree Shoes, a talented shoe designer who designs and makes shoes in her own workshop in Bengaluru, India.
“Kuppal and I thought it would be invaluable to learn from her and Divya was very generous with her time to teach us. With all these parts in place, Kuppal and I were confident that we have everything we need to start the business,” Pradhima said.
That’s how six months after their first discussion; Soleful Shoes came into being in 2016.
Today, Soleful Shoes exclusively caters to women with petite and large feet in Australia via their website.
These women are incredibly proud of what they have achieved together and have combined their entrepreneurial venture with a social mission.
And at the heart of Soleful Shoes is their social mission which is when you buy shoes from them, you can donate used shoes at the same time. These shoes are then sent to one of their impact partners, Dress for Success
Much like the plus size fashion industry has taken off, these young women hope that in next five years, Soleful Shoes would have solved the issue of Australian women not being able to find shoes their size.
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