'Stay­ing strong is the only way for­ward'

Panchkula-based shoe de­signer Gurveen Kaur talks about bat­tling a rare au­toim­mune dis­ease and mak­ing it big in the fash­ion world.

India Today - - FEATURE - _ By Deek­sha Khanna

Shoes are a girl’s best friend they say, but for 23-year-old Gurveen Kaur—who has been suf­fer­ing from a rare au­toim­mune dis­ease since the age of 12— shoes are her only cre­ative out­let. Hail­ing from Panchkula, her brand Inara Shoes has found a place on web­sites such as Koovs and Ajio and has sold over 10,000 pairs in the last two years. She has had no for­mal de­sign train­ing; all her knowl­edge comes from work­ing in her fa­ther’s shoe ex­port fac­tory. She says, “Inara is part of me, my vi­sion drives it.” She talks to us about mak­ing it big in the face of ad­ver­sity.

Tell us about your jour­ney?

I started ex­per­i­ment­ing with art and sketch­ing when I was in sec­ond year of col­lege pur­su­ing Mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Chitkara Univer­sity. I learnt how to make shoes while han­dling the sports sec­tion in my fa­ther's fac­tory and ven­tured out to start my la­bel. I do ev­ery­thing from de­sign­ing to brand­ing and I have a man­u­fac­tur­ing team which makes the shoes. My first col­lec­tion was sold out within a month of be­ing launched.

What were the strug­gles you faced while es­tab­lish­ing Inara?

I have had an au­toim­mune dis­ease since I was 12 years old. My im­mune sys­tem can­not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween good and bad cells and ends up at­tack­ing my body. So there are days when I can­not work be­cause my health doesn't per­mit it. This is why I choose to work from home at times. I keep push­ing my­self be­cause my work de­mands a lot of trav­el­ling. How­ever, when I am un­able to, my family steps in. My family and friends have been very sup­port­ive of me and in­stru­men­tal in pro­mot­ing my busi­ness.

Tell us about your de­sign in­spi­ra­tion?

When I started work­ing in my fa­ther’s fac­tory, I re­alised that when it comes to shoes, qual­ity is of utmost im­por­tance. My pieces are in­flu­enced by Euro­pean fash­ion; I mostly de­sign closed shoes such as brogues, ox­fords, derbies and flat­forms (her sig­na­ture footwear). Open shoes dom­i­nate the In­dian mar­ket but I feel that for the In­dian cli­mate, closed shoes are a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive. Syn­thetic shoes do not al­low the feet to breathe, hence I work mostly with leather as it suits our weather.

Fu­ture plans for your com­pany?

I am tak­ing on­line mas­ter classes from shoe de­sign­ers and mak­ers all over the world to en­hance my shoe de­sign­ing knowl­edge and learn dif­fer­ent shoe styles. I am also look­ing to scale up my boot­strap ini­tia­tive and plan to open my own on­line store.

For the In­dian cli­mate, closed shoes such as brogues, ox­fords and derbies are a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.

Pho­to­graph by SAN­DEEP SAHDEV

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