Founder and Creative Director | Only Two Feet
Sometimes the name is in the air… the images start to surround you and you start to connect the dots and realise, oh, that’s very near 🙂 and you are more than happy to be introduced. This is what happened to me with regards to Kavita Sharma Gandhi. First, I saw her in the pictures of one of my very dear childhood friends and then of course, the ubiquitous social media makes it easy for you to tag, connect, remember etc. Then, after a few months my Sister-in-Law mentioned her and said, oh she is my childhood friend. …and suddenly there was this total bachpan wala yaari dosti wala stories that I heard… and then she told me about Only Two Feet – Kavita’s Business Venture and how she built it from the ground up. You know me, I love a good story… any story with a little bit of inspiration and self-make…and Kavita’s story has truckloads. My friend was ever so sweet to connect me with her and that’s how….I present to you..the beautiful, super creative and extremely hard working Kavita Sharma Gandhi of Only Two Feet. You may want to take some notes on this one 🙂
- Only Two Feet…how cute is that 🙂 Tell us about your journey, Kavita. What made you start your own label?
Shoes for some, pure love for me. Just like most affairs, this one too started
with infatuation, grew into a passion and finally into an obsession. While a
good pair of shoes always left me starry eyed, often not being able to find the right pair, made me realize how deep my love for shoes was. To find a well- made, well-designed, well-fitted shoe was next to impossible. How I wished there was someone who would get what women wanted from
a pair of shoes.
Then one day, I decided to be that person. Decided to leave my 10-year long
career in media to pursue my lifelong love for shoes and my passion to bring comfortable, stylish and yet affordable shoes to all.
My shoe lust took me to the mecca of fashion- Milan, Italy where I studied
footwear designing and collection development at ‘Ars Sutoria School’, the
world-renowned University of Footwear. I then honed my skills in the
technical aspects of handmade shoe manufacturing at the ‘Footwear
Summer School’ at the prestigious London School of Fashion, University of
Arts London. After 18-months and hundreds of lasts and materials later, I launched my labour of love in 2017.
Only Two Feet is a brand that promises exquisite collection of handmade
shoes, crafted of the finest material, with impeccable finish. An irresistible collection that’s bound to make every shoe lover go- ‘Oh what
a dilemma, so many shoes and I have only two feet!’
2. How do you start your creative process? Who or what is your inspiration?
My creative process is not fixed and quite organic. I get inspired by history,
architecture, nature and all things beautiful. Trends is also something I watch closely. Color is a very important component in my creativity and I love to play around with that. While creativity is boundless and limitless at the end of the day my footwear is not meant for a museum and has to be worn. Hence comfort is paramount and goes hand in hand with creativity.
Once I have an idea I go to the drawing board. I explore materials and colors. After that I work closely with my karigars to ensure the style/ design is comfortable. This may involve many iterations to achieve the perfect balance of comfort and style.
3. What has been your biggest challenge till date?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy and there are many challenges. Right from capital, to retailing, identifying and catering to your TG consistently, finding different modes of distribution, marketing your label in a cluttered market, avoiding wastage, customer service, dealing with labour, churning out something unique it’s all challenging. The list is endless.
4.Your shoes are all handcrafted. How easy or difficult is it to bring your designs to life and working with the local artisans.
Working with artisans is very satisfying as their craft and skill is a delight to
bring to life. But it’s not easy. Labour in India is disorganized and difficult to
maintain timelines and discipline. Also handcrafted footwear while extremely skilled has its limitations when it comes to footwear as it is done by hand and without machines. So unlike factory manufactured mass footwear it can never be standardized to that level. Each shoe is a labour of love and takes hours and days to make. Hence time is also a factor.
5. Is there enough infrastructure or support and encouragement for young designers to venture out into anything other than clothes, which is more lucrative?
There is no support or infrastructure from the Govt. We are on our own. In fact footwear has one of the highest slabs of GST at 18% which makes it very difficult for small businesses like ours. There are clients who are extremely supportive of locally made brands but that’s a small percentage. There are more people who prefer to buy mass produced fast fashion brands as they are cheaper than handcrafted locally manufactured footwear.
6. Tell us about your family, their role and support in your journey.
My husband has been my biggest support and cheer leader. My parents have always laid great emphasis on education and hard work for both my sisters and me. However, they are both in service and would always give more importance to a steady corporate job vs a business. They viewed becoming an entrepreneur as a risk/ gamble, rightly so 🙂
Luckily my husband supported me when I decided to quit my job and start
my own venture. After that my parents too came around and now they along with my sisters are a huge support to me. They take great pride in my
achievements and that gives me a huge boost. I’m also lucky to have a close-
knit group of friends who support and encourage me immensely.
Both my Mom and Dad are still working full time and have always led by
example. Prioritizing work, sincerity towards one’s job, financial independence and self-discipline are all qualities I have tried to imbibe from them.
7. Shoes, designing and creating bespoke pieces is niche. How do you keep your motivation levels up? Also, what is your signature style? What’s your go-to pair of shoes?
That’s right. Shoes is a niche segment and definitely more challenging than a mainstream business. But I have never looked at it from that perspective, I have simply followed my passion which has always been shoes. I think every business has its set of challenges but the thing that keeps you going is your passion and love for what you do.
Our signature style is our Pastel block Kolhapuris that when launched just
took off. It is our best seller and has also made it to the wardrobe of many
celebs like Alia Bhatt, Anaita Adajania Shroff, Jhanvi Kapoor, Huma Quereshi etc.
The other style we are best known for and is our USP to a large extent is our
pure leather range of premium footwear, which uses best quality leather
imported from Italy and is for a discerning, niche client. The rest of our
footwear is Vegan/ non leather.
8. What’s the most surprising thing about entrepreneurship?
Most surprising thing of entrepreneurship would be that you are on your own. There is no one sitting on your head putting pressure on you. And that can be a double-edged sword. So, while you will enjoy the freedom of being your own boss, the buck starts and stops with you. You can wake up some
mornings and decide you will do nothing, and you won’t be answerable to
anyone but yourself. The amount of work you put in will only help you grow faster. Entrepreneurship is a lot of self-motivation, self-drive, self-discipline.
9. What keeps you motivated in these tough times?
Covid is the worst time we have seen as small business owners/
entrepreneurs. It’s difficult to keep oneself motivated when one sees all the
past years’ hard work go to dust with no economic revival in sight. I have not been as disciplined as I would like to be, but what does work for me is making a daily ‘To Do’ list. Long term goals broken down into monthly targets, further broken down into daily tasks. I try to stick to my list and accomplish my tasks for the day. This helps me get my work done on time and helps me maintain some level of discipline even when I’m not in the frame of mind to work.
What I have been doing during the pandemic is prioritizing my to-do list
depending on how I’m feeling that day. If I’m feeling very positive and
energetic then my focus for the day becomes accomplishing the creative
side of my work, be it new designs, shoots, fleshing new ideas etc. On the
days when I’m feeling less energetic or inspired then I opt for operational
work, chasing payments, replying to mundane emails etc. Both are a part of my job but prioritizing helps me get better results.
10. What advice would you like to give to anyone who shares your passion or wants to pursue anything that is not mainstream?
My advice is just follow your dreams. You have one life. It’s better to have
tried and failed than to never have tried at all. Do prepare and educate
yourself but don’t procrastinate to much before launching your business.
There is a lot you will learn once you launch while on the job, the mistakes
and the trails and errors that are all part of the journey. The idea is to pick
yourself up and keep going on.