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A Pune Entrepreneur's Innovative Approach to Kolhapuris Leads to Millions in Revenue

Harshvardhan Patwardhan, who studied in Europe, often noticed men wearing neon green, pink, and yellow shoes. He points out that in India, shoe manufacturers tend to stick to black and brown colors and are hesitant to experiment with other hues.

The 31-year-old MBA grad says, “I want to smash this stereotype.

Harshvardhan first developed an interest in Kolhapuri chappals while attending his graduation in Nottingham.

According to history, Kolhapuri chappals first appeared in the 12th or 13th century. These slippers are hand-made from leather tanned with vegetable colours and are very important to Indian craft history. 

They are reportedly one of the country’s few remaining handcrafted footwear traditions and are created primarily in the Kolhapur area of Maharashtra. The Kolhapuri has largely withstood the test of time, as a natural monument to its strong tradition and roots, despite introducing a great range of footwear worldwide. 

By “westernising” this footwear and giving them a solid grip, a relaxed style, and brilliant colours, Harshvardhan hopes to gain a worldwide reputation for these traditional chappals. When he founded Chappers in 2015 to introduce the conventional Kolhapuri chappals to the globe, especially innovative designs for men, his love of Kolhapuris evolved into a business. 

Image Credit : The weekend later

Kolhapuri chappals are crafted of leather in a highly traditional manner. The method is known as bag tanning. The most modern tanning, chrome tanning, results in supple leather. Harshvardhan began acquiring leather sheets and creating chappals after learning about the quality of the leather. He then started giving samples to his relatives and friends. He set up a booth in a Pune mall and sold 100 pairs of shoes in one day. Orders began to come in shortly after that. 

But what sets Chappers apart is that it allows customers to customise their footwear by choosing their preferred material, colour, and embellishments.

“There was no single Kolhapuri brand specialising in footwear customization in India. You only have two options if you need to customise your shoes: either you visit a mochi (cobbler) working in a nearby lane, or you give up on customization. According to Harshvardhan, I want to standardise customization across the board. 

After seeing the demand for personalized shoes, the youngster began making Kolhapuris attractive, cozy, and highly customizable.

Even touch screens have been installed in our stores, allowing customers to customise shoes, add accessories, and have them delivered to their homes. On the screen, customers can feel the sneaker. By visiting the website, one may also personalise stylish shoes without going into a store, according to the business owner. 

Image Credit : The weekend later

A win-win scenario!

There are 25 people on Harshardhan’s team. At least 1,500 orders come his way each month. Chappers footwear has a starting price of Rs 2,500 and a maximum price of Rs 50,000. In addition to 27 different nations, including the US and Europe, Harshvardhan has customers for these personalised shoes in the Indian cities of Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat, and Assam. 

Chappers has retail locations in four malls in Pune City, and the company’s founder wants to grow to 350 malls nationwide. Harshvardhan wants Chappers to be a recognised brand all over the world. 

The MBA graduate is a source of motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs. Converting a passion into a business can lead to a life-changing experience, providing financial stability and a fun work environment. “If I can achieve it, so can you,” he encourages.

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