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How a Former CA Started a Vegan Footwear Brand to Offer Indians a Viable Alternative to Leather
“I am an animal lover.” Devika Srimal Bapna begins talking with the simplest statement of purpose behind her brand Kanabis. Her enduring affection for all things four-legged and her tryst as a PETA volunteer led this Delhi resident towards a more conscious lifestyle. She mostly succeeded, except when it came to her footwear.
“I couldn’t find an alternative to leather,” says Devika. “I lived in London, and leather was often the only option in the cold. When I came back to India, I noticed a serious gap in the market. There were big brands that manufactured only leather and the alternatives rarely scored on quality.” Not one to let her feet suffer either leather or inferior shoes, she decided to take matters in her own hands.
In 2015, Devika launched Kanabis, a vegan footwear label made in India and approved by PETA.
It wasn’t an easy transition for Devika who has no background in design. Having trained as a CA, she worked at corporate houses like Ernst & Young and Deloitte before doing a 180 degree professional turn. “It was quite a leap for me. But Kanabis will be two years old soon and the response to the brand has been phenomenal.
Kanabis specialises in women’s footwear crafted from leather substitutes like canvas and jute. What truly sets the brand apart is its unwavering emphasis on design and quality, two aspects often overlooked by mass manufacturers that rely on these materials.
As Devika puts it: “Our shoes are fashionable, durable, and cruelty free. Every part of the shoes is tested, right down to the soles. I even wear all the designs myself to check their durability and take personal note of any issues we receive from our customers.”
“We also keep track of trends too and try to come up with new designs every two months,” she adds. While canvas shoes may conjure images of your tennis sneakers (and the label sure does boast a sold-out pair of white sneakers), Kanabis also offers variations in heels, flats and even cruelty-free boots, which are remarkably difficult to find otherwise.
Devika started with 22 designs. Today, Kanabis has over 60 styles in its catalogue, boasting beautiful colours, prints and embroidery.
“We are a small team and have a very hands-on approach,” Devika says. Case in point: if you call up the brand’s customer care number, chances are that the founder will take the call herself.
Excerpt from The Better India blog. For full article, click here