Cultural enterprise Sozan is on a journey to recreate and reinvent the good old traditional pair of Juttis. Bringing together age-old craftsmanship and modern style, every Sozan pair brings out the best of artistry.
At Sozan, every pair is a Limited Edition. Because if it’s not exclusive – is it even luxury? Walk with us through the journey of Sozan as paved by its effervescent founder, Juhi Jain, who fell Head over Juttis in love with designing.
Stepping Out – The Creation of Sozan
Though I am from a non-business family, I always knew I would grow up to be my own boss in whatever I do. And art has always been an integral part of my personal and professional life. Being a Design graduate, I ventured out to become one of India’s few female tattoo artists. I have always believed that as an art form, tattoos break the barrier of ’til death do us apart. A tattoo remains with you over and beyond.
With time, the artist and the entrepreneur in me, met each other to create something new. I went ahead in designing Clothing and Home Furnishings. From psychedelic T-shirts to cushion covers and table runners, I did everything. But my obsession with shoes caught up with me. Then came Sozan, almost on an impulse.
Honestly, I LOVE footwear. And I am of the belief that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at what kind of footwear they wear. I have always worn juttis – with everything in my closet. I used to pair them up with pants, jeans, dresses and even skirts. The entire combination always came out unique and I used to gather a load of compliments. Yet somewhere I felt there was a dearth of well-made designer juttis. The ones you could wear with your gorgeous black sarees and those little black dresses.
After observing this gap in the market, I decided to set things into motion. I knew this could grow into something big, so I focused on creating something that I would wear every day. It was never about just selling – I wanted to sell quality – shoes that speak for themself.
A-New-Shoe-A-Day – Working upon my Inner Calling
Things did start to fall into place as I started Sozan. I found the right artisans and traveled extensively between Delhi, Jaipur and other parts of Rajasthan to source the right things.
Each pair at Sozan is uniquely handcrafted by some of the best artisans with the finest of fibers. I work on designing every pair as per the customer’s need. I draw inspiration from the rich heritage and culture of Asia. Once the design is approved, the fabric is sourced for handwork and embroidery by our local artisans. It is then sent for leather stitching and shoe-making. The quality is checked at every level of the process.
Every pair made at Sozan tells a unique story. Our juttis adorn a multitude of art. From traditional block printing of Rajasthan and natural jute fibers of Bengal to silks and brocades that embellished Royalty of the past.
We are also the first to do customized and inked handmade juttis. Sozan indeed embodies its Persian name’s meaning – Passion and Needlework. It’s always been about striking a perfect balance between elegance, uniqueness and quality.
Luxury is meant to be Exclusive – Establishing a Target Market
Sozan proudly makes a bold statement – It is Not for Everyone. It is not just another pair of shoes – it’s craftsmanship at its best. The hand-stitched and limited-edition designs are only for those who enjoy the best of artistry.
Usually, the juttis which make rounds through the market are mass-produced and are available for very nominal prices. In simple words, it is a battle of quantity versus quality.
Sozan soles are defined as a real Labor of Love. It can take up to a month to handcraft each pair. We have an eye for detailing. Zari, zardozi, Kundan, dabka, zircon, and thread work are just a few of all the materials and techniques to name that goes into crafting a Sozan pair.
At Sozan, I firmly believe if you require an explanation to understand the price and value of something, it is not for you. Handicraft is labor-intensive and demands a level of experience, time and effort.
I am committed to bringing the best to a customer who values the skills of my artisans.
Our target audience is anyone and everyone who has an eye for craftsmanship. Our customer interaction is completely online. 50 percent of our customers have been brides from all around the globe. After all, love for an exclusive pair of shoes on your wedding day surpasses the boundaries of religion and country. The other half of our customers, meanwhile are people who come purely for the love of art.
Buckle Up for Anything – Growing around Challenges
Name any adversity and I most probably would have faced it. I am a first-generation entrepreneur and this journey has been everything but easy. In fact, Sozan was not always named as it is currently.
Trademark battle with Zara
I began my brand as Zarsa. The name brought me trademark opposition from the Spain headquarters of clothing-giant Zara. And hence began an arduous 2-year-long legal battle. With complex laws usually bending in favor of the bigger party involved, I decided to be the bigger person here. I understood that my time, efforts and resources would be far more fruitful in building my enterprise. Hence, came Sozan.
But this was not the end of challenges for me. The likes of Demonetization, GST implication and the COVID pandemic lay ahead. Yet there was no stopping.
A perennial crunch in skilled craftsmen
It is ironic that our country is known for its diverse art forms and yet there is an acute scarcity of skilled artisans. Crafting juttis is generational work. It percolates from one to the other. The lack of meaningful incentives, recognition and motivational factors is behind the dwindling craftsmen. Handwork is looked down upon. It is only when the existing artisans receive their fair share of dignity, that their craft will live.
A true mentor is indispensable
Crossing all these hurdles has been adventurous. The only missing part in my journey has been the presence of a mentor. I have been a stand-alone warrior throughout. Though there’s no sure-shot way to success, it would have been nice to look up to someone for the occasional piece of advice. It would have definitely shortened my learning curve.
Walking the Talk – I am here to stay and so is Sozan
I feel elated and my belief system strengthens manifold, the moment Sozan receives love from its customers. I’ll always be close to designing Sozan juttis even when the business scales up. I believe someone could be better than me but no one will ever be like me.
I am here to stay and so is Sozan. Meandering through various creative abilities hidden in our country and its artisans, we will make a mark in the world of handcrafted luxury. Every jutti at Sozan will be made with the same amount of love, passion and hard work.
It’s a long road ahead and I am determined to walk with my head held high and in a really nice pair of juttis.
NICEorg wishes Sozan the best of luck in its journey ahead!
If your cultural enterprise is in any of our five focus sectors and you would be interested in being featured, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org