3 Footwear – A Corporate Success

Jul 1, 2014 by     Comments Off on 3 Footwear – A Corporate Success    Posted under: Cover Story, Spotlight

Launched midway through June by three dynamic ladies that make up this team of corporate success, 3 Footwear is a brand exclusively for those who have a love of shoes. From comfortable flip-flops to funky sandals, they’ve got it all. Our correspondent had the privilege of taking an exclusive interview with one of the pillars holding this brand up, Kanza Naheed.

The Girls of 3 Footwear - Kanza Naheed, Saba Magsi and Mahrukh Isa

From left to Right: Kanza Naheed, Saba Magsi and Marukh Isa are the three women who make up this dynamic enterprise.

1. Please tell us about yourselves.

A. The three of us have been friends since grade 7 so we’ve known each other for a very long time; but we always wanted to do something extra for fun. We started 3 footwear in 2011 when we were students and it has grown since then. Kanza is currently doing her MBA from LUMS and Mahrukh just finished her MBA from KSBL. (Both of them were in IBA for their undergrad). Saba is currently pursuing her studies in IoBM. So we have a good mix of the diverse business school environment of Pakistan.

2. How did you get the idea to start your own brand of footwear?

A. Well Kanza has a shoe-size of 11, which was always an issue when looking for good affordable shoes. Mahrukh was always looking for comfy shoes at a bargain price and Saba wasn’t happy with the designs available in the local market. So we finally had enough and decided “let’s make our own shoes!”.

3 Footwear Official

3. Why 3 Footwear? Isn’t it a very peculiar name for a brand?

A. (laughs) Well, yes. Kanza wanted a number as a name for the brand because that would be different from all the footwear brands currently in Pakistan. Also it would be good priming once the brand name picked up. As nerdy as it sounds, we did initially think of many names. However since none of us could come up with “THE NAME” we did a LCM of our date of births and the number 3 was the least common multiple. Looking at that number it just felt right and we named it 3. Even though a lot of people assume that it’s called 3 footwear due to 3 partners, but that is not at all the case. We built a story around the number 3 for marketing. You can read about it in our ‘About Us‘ section on our fb page.

4. How did you market your product when you first started?

A. We marketed through Facebook and other forms of social media mostly, along with word of mouth. We made our friends like the page and put up teasers. People kept referring their friends to us. When we put up pictures there was always a boost of likes. It still continues the same way. 3 Footwear also recently joined Instagram and Twitter.

5. Is it very difficult to be an online business in Pakistan? Given that our logistics is not the best in the world.

A. Not really. We feel that Pakistan has a lot of potential in terms of correction and growth. It is up to us, (the don’t-want-to-run-away-from-this-country Pakistanis) to correct the situation of this country. If we can make any sort of positive contribution that would create jobs and help the economy instead of bad mouthing ourselves, I think we’ll go a long way.  As for the logistics system of our brand, we feel that Daraz.pk (our online retailer) is doing a pretty good job for us. It’s a hassle free process for us and the customer.

6. Considering how you’ve grown since you started, how big an organization are you? With regards to staff

A. For now its just the three of us, free lancing graphic designers and a bunch of karigars. We manage stuff on our own for now as we don’t have a brick and mortar store. Also we have made 3 Footwear fit into our lives in a very seamless way, we usually work on the weekends or after office/school. Yes its extra work but it’s a lot of learning and fun.

7. It was 3 Footwear’s 3rd birthday on 15 June 2014  – just a few days ago. How do you feel to have come so far in so short a time?

A. It feels slightly strange to be honest. We started this off with a ‘lets do something’ spirit back in 2011, and we are still hard at work because we have a long way to go. 3 years is a big chunk of time, but we feel it’s a time well spent. All of us were different people back then but we feel that we have grown with the brand and seen it grow in front of us. It’s a humbling experience. All of our third birthday was spent in organizing shoe boxes and preparing for our up-coming exhibitions in Lahore and Karachi so that was an ironic way to celebrate; by working. This year expanding to Islamabad and Lahore was a big step for us. Something we are really proud of! But it’s always fun when we get together for 3 work as we keep bouncing ideas, joking around and giving each other constructive criticism. We will celebrate our 3rd birthday properly after we get done with these exhibitions.

8. Do you plan to open your own retail outlet any time soon?

A. We are currently trying to expand and looking for different retail avenues. We always wanted online retail as it’s the least amount of hassle with the added advantage of a vast reach (all over Pakistan). Opening a retail outlet requires a lot of investment and dedication, and two of us are currently studying at the moment.

9. Do you have any ideas of what it will look like if you do have a retail outlet?

A. It would be something earthy yet relatable. 3 Footwear is feminine yet confident, fun-loving yet elegant and colorful but trendy.

10. What is the biggest hurdle you – and your partners – face in your business today?

A. I think the “discouragement” factor is the biggest hurdle we have ever faced. Yes, Karachi has terrible issues of strikes and lawlessness, but even just generally people aren’t supportive of new ideas and change. I think the possibility of change such as us starting a business while still in school was a hurdle (at least MY family thought so). They felt this was too big a step and would distract us. However after we managed to show them that we weren’t aimlessly wandering but had actually had a game-plan they were really supportive. I wrote about my initial struggle too; you can read it here.

11. Is it particularly difficult for you as a woman businessperson?

A. Personally, I do feel that it could become a problem if you let it. A lot of people let their gender become a hindrance to what they want to pursue. The good thing about the 3 of us, however, is that we don’t let that stand in our way. When we know we want to do something we do it whether that’s in personal life or work. This strength comes from believing in yourself because those around you won’t be your personal cheerleaders. You need to cheer your own self on, even though at times it seems like a silly thing to do. Also I think we have managed to develop a good support system of our family and close friends; that takes time but it helps push you in the right direction.

3 Footwear Official Footwear 2

12. What would you say to other aspiring business women in Pakistan?

A. I would say: don’t live in the “what-if zone”, if you believe in something just go for it. If others think your idea is as good as you think of it to be, it will expand and become big eventually. If it’s not, it will falter and die. It’s a natural process, don’t be afraid of failure, its part of life accept it. Take that risk. What have you got to lose? It’s not like a million dollar investment it’s just an idea (for now). For women in particular, I’d like to tell them: Stop viewing yourself (and others) under a gender lens. Yes you are a woman, but that is one label that doesn’t have to hold you back. The society isn’t holding you back, you are holding yourself back. You have a voice to speak your opinion and you have legs, walk towards your goal. Be all you can imagine yourself to be – don’t undertake the victim persona. You are not a victim.

The women of 3 Footwear are dynamic and head strong. They do not believe in bowing down to gender stereotypes or giving up with the going gets tough; they wear out all hurdles that come their way and are still going strong hurtling toward their final dream.

We wish them the best of luck and hope more such entrepreneurs can rise up to take Pakistan higher.

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