Footsy is a funky, off-beat eCommerce Startup. Founded in Feb 2012 by two sock-enthusiasts Seema Seth and Pooja Mehta, their online store sells variety of socks for Women, Men and Kids. The designs are bright, and your hand will itch to buy a pair of socks before you leave the store website.
Seema graduated from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology and has worked for 7 years in various design firms before launching Studio Sky. Pooja has graduated from Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad. She works as a design manager in a private firm now, and devotes her free time to Footsy.
When we asked Seema about Footsy’s products and services, here’s what she had to say:
1. Congratulations on being the first ecommerce store for Socks in India. 7 months after the startup is launched, tell us how it feels.
It feels great. We did our initial research from August 2011, and we launched the eComm website 7 months ago. People are loving our socks range, and it has been a really great learning period for us.
2. Is this a once-clicked big idea or something that you wanted to do from long time? Tell us how the eComm site has come about.
To be precise, this idea was born in a yoga class! After having worked in Design Firms for about 7 years, I have set up Studio Sky. After that’s well-established, I had the excitement and urge to do something more. As this idea came into my mind, I discussed with Pooja, who was equally supportive and Footsy was born.
3. What are the initial hiccups you faced to launch the service?
I’d say we faced the major hurdle from textile manufacturers. We had no experience in how the textile industry operates, we took some bright-colored designs to sock manufactures and requested them to do socks for us. We have been turned down by around 8-9 manufacturers before we found people who are broad-minded and are willing to experiment with our new patterns.
4 How do you manufacture the socks? Can you tell us briefly on whether the socks locally manufactured or imported from overseas? What’s the mix like?
The mix is like 20-30-50. 20% of stock displayed in Footsy website is designed and manufactured by Footsy. In short, we own that socks. The other 30% comes from Nationally famous brands. 50% of Footsy’s stock comes from International brands such as Happy Socks from Sweden. The brands we bring to India are only available through us, making us more niche in sock market.
5 Is the retail mode working? What cities are you targeting next?
I would say that the retail mode isn’t working as great as expected. We started off with really-exclusive and designer boutique stores. But, the stores weren’t catering to Footwear but all items in general. However, our online tie-ups are working really well. We do get lot of traffic from websites we partner with. In future, we wish to tie up with multi brand shopping malls in retail, and continue to partner with online websites for increase in interest and revenue.
6. What’s the inspiration for the funky designs that appear in your website? I must admit, they are cool and I’m itching to buy one already..
It’s all about keeping your eyes open. Being a design student, I was surrounded by people who dress unconventionally, to get themselves noticed. Years later, now it’s on following what’s are the latest trends in the market, and how people’s fashion sense is evolving. The design experience invariably helps as well.
7.What are the unique advertising methods you used, to make sure the Indian consumer wants to buy the colorful socks?
We have used Social Media extensively to advertise Footsy – Facebook , Twitter and Pinterest to name. We tweet a lot, and based on our experience Facebook has been really helpful to gather people’s interest on Footsy with lot of Likes and Shares.
8. What’s the funding for Footsy like? Did you break even yet?
At the moment, Footsy is self-funded by me and Pooja. We did not break even yet, but we plan to do it soon.
9. Share us the most memorable incident so far, after the launch of Footsy.
Few weeks back, The Economic Times carried an article about Footsy. I would say, that’s the most memorable incident so far. We had our phones ringing whole day – friends to people whom we haven’t contacted in years congratulating us on the ET feature.
10. What is the worst experience so far, and what did you learn from it?
There’s no such thing called worst experience, but working with Textile industry has given us great learning curve. Now that, we have all the processes and communication streamlined – it’s a bit easier to maintain.
11. How is the response to men’s socks – after years of getting used to brown, black and grey?
This is a very interesting question. During the initial launch of Footsy, we planned to cater only for Ladies, as our assumption was that ladies would be more willing to try brighter colors. Men proved us totally wrong! We had emails and inquiries from lot of men, on many different shades and patterns. We even had an inquiry for pink pair of socks for men!! Eventually, within the first few months we launched the Men and Kid’s sections as well. I’d say the response has been terrific, and we are also pleasantly surprised to see Indian men wanting to wear brighter colors.
12. Do you plan to search for Investors?
We’ve been approached by few people, but it’s really too early to talk about it. Pooja and me are still discussing on the various pros and cons.
13. What are the new product lines that you plan to introduce to Indian market?
We plan to introduce lot of new products under existing product lines. For example, under Socks – we can introduce various length, anti-skid socks for yoga. Also, we plan to partner with more brands so that we sell all possible variety under one roof.
Nothing comes together without team work. When asked on the role-sharing in Footsy, Seema replies, “Both Pooja and me do the product selection process. Being a design manager, Pooja takes care of the business development aspect of Footsy. I look after the creative and logistic aspects. For any query directed to Footsy, you can expect a reply from any of us , Customer Service is one of the key areas both of us look into”.
On Women in Business
We asked Seema on how is it to be a women entrepreneur. She laughs off and says that she’s glad she did not have any negative experiences so far. People are accepting and encouraging and really did not differentiate in any way between male and female entrepreneurs. On the role of her family, she is all praises. Both her and Pooja’s family provide their unconditional support in various ways such as social media management, word-of-mouth and logistics.
When we quizzed Seema if women entrepreneurs have any advantage over men entrepreneurs , she hesitantly admits that, being a woman she is more expressive and her passion towards her work clearly exudes when she communicates with others. I think that, it may be an advantage over men. We whole heartedly agree. Who wouldn’t love to work with energetic and passionate people?
Signing off, Seema shares her advise for future women entrepreneurs – “Many women step back thinking that launching a startup is a very daunting task. You need a business plan, technicalities and lot of other stuff which you never did in your entire life. However, all you need to start off is Passion and clarity on your idea. Once the implementation starts, the journey is all about exploring and learning things along the way”
Clearly, Indian consumer mindset is changing, and if conventional men are ready to wear pink socks outside the board rooms, we may soon see lot of competitors to Footsy emerging in Indian market. However, Footsy definitely has the advantage of being first and what really matters is how fast they build up the trust with consumers.
Here’s wishing Footsy team the very best!