Crafting Custom Luxury: Exploring SANDALERIE's Agile Journey of Continuous Learning and Customer-Centric Innovation
In a world dominated by mass-produced goods, SANDALERIE embarked on a different path in the footwear industry. This is the story of how agile methods and a passion for innovation contributed to the birth of a sandal brand that combines traditional craftsmanship with a modern touch, providing a unique custom experience.
The Spark of Inspiration
It all started with a trip to Italy, where I had a pair of leather sandals custom-made. The artistry and craftsmanship that went into those sandals left a lasting impression. It was this personalized sandal fitting experience that I wanted to share with others, sparking the idea of starting a footwear brand as a side endeavor.
Embracing the Unknown
As a consultant by trade venturing into the footwear world, I began from scratch, immersing myself in the complexities of the shoe industry. My journey involved a deep exploration of the techniques and processes used in sandal production. I went the extra mile by traveling across Europe to collaborate with experienced shoemakers and attend industry events like the Lineapelle leather fair in Milan.
However, I soon faced the reality that the shoe industry, especially the leather segment in Italy, was deeply rooted in tradition and somewhat exclusive. Access to specialized supplies and materials was limited, pushing me to find my own solutions.
The Agile Approach
At this point, the agile mindset and its methodologies, including Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Scrum, became my guiding principles, offering a framework to navigate uncharted waters.
With determination, I undertook the challenging task of crafting leather soles and straps from scratch. I started with basic materials from construction markets and sourced various items from local leather shops. Countless prototypes emerged from my experimental journey, driven by the pursuit of excellence.
I also realized the need for specialized equipment, such as a press and cutting dies, similar to biscuit cutters, for crafting the leather soles. I learned to create CAD designs for the soles and had cutting dies made by a locksmith. Instead of investing in an expensive hydraulic press, I acquired a manual book press on eBay.
To truly understand my target audience and refine my product, I engaged potential customers in sandal-making workshops.
In addition to sharing the creative process, I also interviewed the women to find out what problems they have with regular sandals. Through these interactions, I gained invaluable market insights. I found that the main problems with regular strappy sandals were: (1) poor fit leading to discomfort, (2) overly narrow soles, and (3) flashy designs.
Armed with customer feedback, I improved the sole design to accommodate a wider range of foot shapes, particularly those common in Northern Europe. I developed minimalist sandal designs and chose timeless leather colors. Lastly, I introduced a DIY sandal-making kit to empower women to create their own personalized, well-fitting sandals. These kits were made available through my website and a DIY platform, providing customers with a hands-on and rewarding experience.
Pivot with Purpose
After conducting additional tests and customer interviews, it became clear that people were hesitant to make the sandals on their own. They perceived the task as challenging and had concerns about potential mistakes. This hesitation resulted in a limited willingness to invest financially, making my initial business model unviable.
Additionally, customers expressed dissatisfaction with the adhesive used in the production process, citing its inconvenience and unpleasant odor as concerns. Recognizing these barriers, I learned to embrace failure as a source of learning.
Innovation through Adaptation and Continuous learning
In my quest for a better solution, I explored an ancient Italian sandal-making technique that relied on small brass tacks instead of glue, significantly reducing production steps and assembly time. However, I quickly realized that this new technique was unfortunately too complex for beginners to make on their own.
Equipped with the knowledge and insights I have gained on my agile journey, I pivoted once more, offering made-to-measure sandals in person - a solution tailored to the specific needs and preferences of my customers. The sandals combine visual appeal with exceptional comfort.
SANDALERIE: A Blend of Tradition and Innovation
In a world dominated by fast fashion, SANDALERIE stands out for its appreciation of craftsmanship and uniqueness, delivering a luxurious, instantly satisfying shopping experience, diverging from the usual retail model. Each pair of sandals stands as a testament to our dedication to quality, customization, and customer satisfaction.
The Perfect One-of-a-Kind Summer Shoes
So, if you're in search of the perfect summer sandal—one that combines tradition and innovation—look no further than SANDALERIE. Join us on this inspiring agile journey that has been marked by learning, adaptation, and a relentless commitment to creating the ultimate one-of-a-kind footwear brand tailored to your needs.