A JOBLESS couple managed to turn a hobby into a booming business racking in $450k (£240k) in the first eight months.
Audrey Palupi and Jeremiah D’Souza, from Melbourne, Australia, launched Custom Sneaker Co when the pandemic hit last year, where they sell a range of personalised trainers for an average $300 (£160) a pair.
Audrey, 20, first came up with the idea when she spotted a pair of shoes with a unique butterfly design on them – but the shipping cost from America instantly put her off.
She decided to make her own, which proved a hit with strangers, and when they both lost their casual jobs because of the pandemic – Audrey as a swim teacher and Jeremiah as a retail worker at the Australian store Glue – they decided they had nothing else to lose.
The young business owner said she was “jobless and had no income” and the couple were relying on government benefits to get by.
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They also had a lot of free time, according to Audrey, so she began sharing her designs on Instagram where people quickly took to them.
Speaking to news.com.au, she said: “As we posted more on our Instagram, people were loving our designs, loving our art and loved having something that was unique.
“We pretty much wanted to be able to provide something that you couldn’t find in the shelves as we were working with only plain white Nike Air Force sneakers. We wanted to able to give people the freedom to have whatever they wanted on the shoes. It was about designing special pieces for people.”
The pair, who are high school sweethearts, launched their business online as Australians turned to online shopping during lockdown.
In the beginning they were just taking orders via Instagram, but when it climbed to up to 30 a day they realised it was time to create a website.
In the first eight months, they made a whopping $450,000 (£240,000), and in August alone they earned a huge $116,000 (£61,900).
Their custom shoes include a combination of hand painted, printed and stitched designs, and they also use a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine to cut stencils and create labels.
Audrey says they can “bring anything to life,” even a family portrait or business logo can be put on the shoe.
Some of her favourite designs have been doing tribute shoes for family or friends who have lost someone to create a “memorial” shoe and a collaboration with clothing brand Meshki, which included a monogrammed reflective logo on the sneaker.
Jeremiah, 22, said the trend for customised shoes had grown in the US and it’s now catching on in Australia – and claims they were the first in Australia to do it.
As we posted more on our Instagram, people were loving our designs, loving our art and loved having something that was unique.
He thinks the trend is becoming popular because it gives people the ability to express their personality – through their shoes.
“It’s taken us by storm as we had no how idea to run a business so it was really difficult to navigate,” he said.
“No one paved the way for us within this industry – we are the first and biggest in Australia.”
And added: “I feel like everyone sees regular shoes on the shelf but by customising they can have what they love on it, like a favourite artist or cartoon or their loved ones,”
The couple are now taking orders worlwide from countries including Sweden, Romania, Germany, France, Italy, US, Canada and Russia.
Jeremiah found it “unbelievable” that they were known around the world with Audrey admitting it doesn’t feel like “real life”.
They are now looking at expanding into custom clothing and cutting their current production down from an average of three to five weeks.
This story first appeared on news.com.au and was shared here with permission.
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