Pune woman makes footwear out of scrap tyres, saving the environment

The Fact News Service

October 17

Lesson to you from a Pune-based entrepreneur – reinvest in your idea, and you can stitch a whole new future for yourself! Which is exactly what a Pune based entrepreneur did, turning her cash prize from ‘Startup India’ into an upcycled footwear brand.

“I was in my last semester to complete post-graduation in renewable energy from The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) and started hunting for a job in the renewable energy sector,” Pooja Apte, the 28-year-old entrepreneur, recalls for The Better India.

“I did a lot of research on scrap tyre businesses. But all of them required huge capital investments with late returns. For example, through pyrolysis (a method to recycle discarded tyres), one can make commercial oil, carbon black and construction rods. But all of that requires heavy investments, and if the chemical process does not happen properly, it only leads to pollution,” Pooja said.

“The government also banned reusing tyres for safety reasons, and these discarded tyres are non-biodegradable. So I felt I needed a solution to the problem as well,” Pooja said.

Graduating in December later that year, Pooja dedicated all her time to grow her venture. After getting a boost of confidence by selling one pair of bridal footwear in April, Pooja said that in June 2019 she officially started her business.

For representing purpose only

The footwear is priced between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000. The cost increases with the complication of the design and the requirements of customers.

Over the last few months, Pooja has slowly expanded her team. “I still get my footwear done from cobblers and have hired five karagirs (artists) on a contract basis. I also have a full-time designer working as creative head,” Pooja says.

Much of her clientele comes from Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Andhra Pradesh – among other states.

“I used to earn more than Rs 50,000 a month until the Covid-19 lockdown halted the growth in March. But the sales have started picking up from September,” Pooja said.

About plans in store for the venture, Pooja said, “I want to focus on exploiting the Indian market in the current year and reach out to the global market in the next year.”

(story sourced through inputs from agencies)