Reported by Ruby Nanda
Bhubaneswar, Sep 26:
Inspired by Mumbai’s Sandeep Gajakas, an entrepreneur has opened his very own shoe-laundry, the first of its kind in Odisha, in the capital city.
For Shanti Bhusan Nayak, Odisha’s answer to Gajakas, it all started with his love for a pair of Woodland shoes! He wore his Woodland shoes for five years, but did not have the heart to throw them away.
But five years of dirt, grime and soil had taken their toll and rendered it unwearable. So, he started thinking about ways to restore shoes to their past glory. He surfed the internet for various shoe cleaning techniques.
“I managed to clean my Woodland shoes after searching the internet for various techniques. I still wear those shoes and have now coloured them black from olive. This success spurred me on to find out more about shoe cleaning techniques and I regularly surfed the net for such information,” said Shanti Bhusan, owner of Revive Shoe Laundry.
A qualified MCA, Shanti was never very keen to pursue a 9-to-5 job. He dabbled in computer parts business, but the idea of opening a shoe laundry was always at the back of his mind.
He started experimenting with cleaning techniques of shoes and leather products and contacted Mumbai based Sandeep Gajakas for a franchise arrangement, but found it was too expensive.
“I had contacted Sandeep Gajakas for opening a shoe laundry in Bhubaneswar. But they asked for a minimum Rs 14,000 as royalty every month. At this rate, the initial establishment cost alone ran into Rs 7 lakhs. He also told me that he could fly to the city in case of a problem, but we would have to bear the cost. The whole thing was unaffordable for me,” says the 35 year-old entrepreneur.
But he did not lose heart and continued his experiments in shoe cleaning with the internet as his guru.
“I kept on experimenting on any available shoes – mine, my father’s, my brother’s shoes and even my friends’ shoes. And managed to spoil some too,” he smiles. “But internet has been a great help to me. I have learnt much of my craft from the internet,” he adds.
“I contacted a lady from Bhutan called Sazia, who runs a shoe manufacturing unit there. She agreed to teach me the techniques of shoe cleaning. We arranged for a 7-day training session in Delhi,” he explained.
The week-long training session, which had cost him Rs 1.5 lakhs, lasted only two days as Shanti found he already knew quite a lot. Confident of his knowledge, the shoe enthusiast now decided to open his own unit. Revive Shoe Laundry was born at Satsang Vihar in Bhubaneswar in November 2013.
“I started the shop at an initial cost of Rs 2 lakhs, I have hired and trained three boys to help me with the shoe cleaning process. I am able to make a profit of Rs 30-40, 000 a month from this shop,” Shanti said.
Although Revive Shoe laundry has a dedicated website, but most of its clientele has come by word of mouth, says the owner.
“We also offer pick and drop service for more than five pairs of shoes. A large number of my clients are from the food industr;, we get around 100-200 pairs of shoes from these corporate clients every month. We have dedicated clients from the IT sector too. We also receive shoes from places like Puri, Angul, Cuttack, Paradeep and Rourkela,” he adds.
Nayak’s shoe laundry specializes in cleaning shoes made of leather, canvas, suede and nubuck material. They also clean leather bags and other leather items.
“When we receive a shoe for cleaning, it passes through 6-7 processes like cleaning, conditioning, odor removal, disinfection etc, and takes 2-3 days. We charge Rs 120 for normal cleaning of shoes; we also mend shoes for extra charges. The charges might differ for different shoes and the amount of work needed on it,” explains Shanti.
I have future plans to expand the shoe laundry to other parts of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, I am also planning to get into manufacturing of leather shoes,” adds the young entrepreneur.
As a nugget of advice, Shanti says, “Wear your shoes at lest once a month and wrap them up in muslin cloth to keep them fresh. Also,do not sun dry your shoes as it damages the pasting and spoils them.”