Agenda

Interview: Aruna Seth

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Aruna Seth is recognised for her stunning shoe designs that have been hailed as ‘fit for a princess’. Surrounded by them from an early age, Aruna’s father made practical, sports shoes, but the young and ambitious Aruna wanted to combine her father’s love of comfort and practicality with her vision of glamour and beautiful aesthetics. Intricate trims and a unique butterfly crystal give Aruna’s shoes a distinctive look, and have been embraced by the fashion world. In this month’s SYB, Aruna tells us how she turned a little girl’s dream into a reality…

Your father designed practical sports shoes when you were younger. How did his work inspire yours?

Well I feel like I’ve grown up with shoes in my blood. Since a young age, shoe designers and shoes have surrounded me so it is inherent really. My father has inspired me in a business sense, as he is so hard working. He has built up an international shoe company around the world, he has offices in Russia, India and Italy, and so my father truly is an inspiration.

What other lessons did you learn from your parents?

Your business goes up and down and you need to persevere to make it. You have your vision, you believe in your product and your company. I am creating Aruna Seth shoes for the long-haul and I’d like to build a brand which stands the test of time and lasts centuries like Chanel.

Have you always known you wanted to run your own fashion business?

Well the combination of my father’s background, my own personal shoe collection of over 150 pairs and a love of shoes in general has led to the creation of Aruna Seth shoes, so the business was the perfect combination of all of these things.

Can you summarise the meaning of your designs for us?             

I love quality, and I only use the best quality materials on my products – the best satins, Swarovski crystals and grosgrain ribbon from Brazil. I love designing shoes that will stand the test of time and are an investment purchase for shoe lovers to buy. 

What inspires you when designing?

Creativity to me is taking inspiration from my surroundings and sitting down and drawing out ideas in my note-pad. My designs are based on what I love from shoes, the places I frequent and my travels. I love attending events and socialising. Before I started the brand Aruna Seth I could never find the perfect shoes for day to evening occasions. I wanted to create shoes for the red carpet with that extra ‘wow’ factor. I also travel a great deal, so an example of a location based shoe is the ‘Antonia’ design, which I completed after a trip to Porto Fino, Swarovski crystal gold nappa leather shoes with a crystal butterfly on, the perfect day-to-evening shoe to match a kaftan.

How would somebody recognise your shoes?

Aruna Seth designs are very distinctive. Our signature shoe is the butterfly crystal on the front. Our shoes are all designed to have that certain ‘Aruna Seth’ look. If you look at the side of the shoes, they are curved to elongate the legs and make you look slimmer and elegant.

What do you find most infuriating about women’s shoes?

Some designer shoes are incredibly popular but extremely uncomfortable. This is what Aruna Seth’s IP is, we design comfortable shoes for all daywear. The sole of our shoes all contain plush leather like cushioned padding for all daywear. We like to design shoes that are comfortable for ladies to wear all day. We like to say that Aruna Seth shoes provide cashmere like comfort to feet for all day wear. 

Feet are a notoriously neglected part of the body. What do you think women should be doing to look after their feet more?

I go for a pedicure every two weeks, it is important to look after your feet and make them look special. You can feel instantly better about yourself or lift your bad mood with a bit of nail polish.

Your shoes have been popular with a lot of celebrities; can you tell us which ones have really excited you?

Pippa Middleton always excites me as she has a great classic style. Pippa seems to have tonnes of weddings to attend and she has been seen in our designs a few times. It is great she is staying loyal to our brand. 

What’s your personal signature style?

I love investing in classic outfits and dresses that will last and stay smart for years. I have invested heavily in a wardrobe of Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham and Roland Mouret dresses, this is all in the name of work as I have so many events to attend.

You’ve mentioned that the butterfly has become your trademark; can you tell us why it is an important symbol to you?

The butterfly signifies freedom and independence; this is certainly how I feel owning my own business. I have the freedom to create my own destiny with Aruna Seth shoes rather than a boss telling me what to do in an office. Butterflies are colourful and creative and this signifies what is important to me with my shoes.

Can you tell us about any difficulties you’ve encountered?

We started Aruna Seth shoes at the height of the recession when millions of people were being made redundant out of the city. We’d bought lots of stock from Italy and retailers who’d made orders could no longer complete them. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the Italian currency went up and it meant we were left with lots of stock at a cheaper price ready to be sold for when Aruna Seth took off later.

What did you do to get your name known in the industry?

We’ve focused heavily on PR and marketing. I have been pushing the brand into the magazines and papers from the beginning. Also we’ve invested heavily in photography, and having great imagery of the shoes to catch people’s attention. Having a great photoshoot done of myself has also helped push the Aruna Seth name into the market.

What do you think is the most important part of building the brand?

It’s sticking to your vision, and keeping the ‘look’ of the brand in the shoes. For example when you look at an Aruna Seth shoe you can tell it is from my website. You never want to distract away from your original look otherwise you’ll confuse the consumer.

You have a very well kept and up to date blog on the website. Can you tell us why you think this is an important part of the site?

It is a great way to interact with consumers and keep them interested in the brand. We’ve built up a great following on the website. People log in everyday to keep up to date with what we are doing and the latest events we have attended.

What exciting collaborations have you been involved in?

Recently we did a collaboration with Zipcar, where I became a ‘Zipstar’ as we use the cars for our business to transport shoes around. This collaboration with Zipcar has been brilliant, as it has opened the door to be featured in magazines where they wouldn’t usually feature a brand with my price-points.

Not to sound cliché but where do see yourself in five years time?

We’ve been concentrating a great deal on the US in the past few years. We have just started focusing on Asia, and I’d love to see the brand building up over there. Also the shoes are stocked in Harvey Nichols, Hong Kong. We’d love to be more known worldwide, especially for our fashion shoes rather than our bridal shoes.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

You need to have a vision and persevere in business especially the fashion industry. Also you have to learn to take the knock downs and pick yourself up. Everyday is a new day bringing new opportunities, and having your own business can be extremely rewarding and exciting.

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