How do you create a best-selling global brand with a small team and a tiny marketing budget? SME editor Colette Doyle spoke to go-getting entrepreneur Aruna Seth to find out her formula for success…
After a year in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, she decided to follow her fashion dreams and take what she’d learned there – “it was great experience to see how an incredibly efficient business like that runs” – and implement it in her own venture, which she founded in 2009, originally focusing on shoes for bridal wear and then branching out into fashion more generally.
She believes that one of the biggest traits you need to succeed when launching a new business is perseverance, noting how difficult it can be to keep people interested and positive when you don’t actually have a product to show them, as it takes time to build a prototype.
She advocates a mix of PR, events and social media to build the brand initially and create awareness. “We partnered with dress brands and designers and did things like attend a consumer bridal show and a footwear trade expo to try and get the our name out there”.
Asked what’s behind her drive, she doesn’t hesitate in her reply: “passion for the product”, she says, acknowledging that she looks to iconic shoe fashion houses such as Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin for inspiration – “I wanted to create a brand that I loved and would wear, a wow-factor, princess-like shoe.” It’s not all style before substance in Aruna’s world though; recognising that brides want comfort on their big day without sacrificing style, she is adamant that making a comfortable shoe is a must. “I remember going out, wearing shoes that looked beautiful, but by the end of the night I had to take them off, they just weren’t that comfortable” – that’s why the Aruna Seth brand is such a big hit in that particular market segment, as she insists on putting strategically placed pads in the ‘sock’ of the shoe to cushion the foot more.