Aradhana Minawala quit her corporate job in branding and wanted to start something of her own. When she saw a gap in the footwear market for well priced, fashionable footwear, she and her partner Dhanraj Minawala decided to launch 'The CAI Store'.
Started in 2015, The CAI Store is a 'Made in India' brand with the sole purpose of providing non-leather and vegan footwear locally and globally to the trend-conscious market at an accessible price point. CAI aims at creating aesthetic yet functional shoes with a fresh take on conscious consumption by offering PETA-approved vegan footwear. It provides a vast collection ranging from open and closed flats to heels and wedges in multiple colours, patterns, and embellishments. The materials used are suede, different fabrics, faux and PU leather.
"We always had an urge to do something creative and environmentally conscious. We followed a no inventory model for two years, wherein we sold shoes solely to one Fashion Portal, which did very well for us. Seeing the response, we decided to start our own website," Aradhana Minawala, co-founder of The CAI Store, told The Logical Indian.
"We stepped up our progressive journey by setting up a stall at the Lil Flea (India's largest flea market) in 2018 when I was seven months pregnant. We had initially hoped to use our funds to travel the world together, but the exhibition was a huge success wherein we saw a great response and kickstarted thecaistore.com. We have grown 20 folds since then," she added.
The company uses 100% recyclable boxes (corrugated cardboard and non-woven cotton bags).
Collaboration With Eminent Personalities
With a loyal customer base of over 81,000, The CAI Store has also collaborated with known personalities in the industry, including Rhea Kapoor, Aashna Shroff, Masoom Minawala, and so on, with their chic and fashion-forward collections for every occasion.
"Our collection with Rhea Kapoor - 'Tired and Fabulous', catering to the everyday woman who wants to be fashionable without compromising on comfort. This collection includes a versatile edit of modern classics that go both with androgynous and feminine clothes," Aradhana shared.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, The CAI Store launched a new collection of extra comfortable home-wear footwear when nobody else was doing it. This helped boost sales and put the company at the forefront.
Empowering Local Craftsmanship
CAI's core principle also revolves around the balance of design and craftsmanship, where every creative expression honours age-old tradition. Handmade with love in their factory, the shoes are a combination of craftsmans' keen attention to detail and traditional techniques.
Combining traditional and new techniques of shoemaking, the shoes are handcrafted from start to finish to ensure durability.
"Each pair is made lovingly by artisans who are passionate about their crafts. We work closely with our workers to ensure the design outcome and also in the process of doing so, grow humble relations that last longer," Aradhana said.