#NICEStories – Stepping into Elegance with Kaalcari’s Footwear Marvel

Kaalcari, which translates to ‘foot movement’ is derived from Kannada and Sanskrit, and truly lives up to its name. The footwear brand meticulously blends traditional craftsmanship with contemporary designs, creating a harmonious fusion that caters to the diverse tastes of its clientele. Each pair of Kaalcari shoes narrates a tale of skilled artistry and modern flair, offering consumers a unique and timeless experience.

Footwear and Artistry

Tejaswini Raaj, the founder of Kaalcari is a footwear designer by profession. She pursued her undergraduate studies at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Bangalore. In her third year of undergraduate studies, she got an opportunity to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology (associate degree) in New York as an international student. She further went on to complete her postgraduation from the London College of Fashion.

She had learned how to make her first handbag and footwear in New York. As she progressed through her course and returned to India, she found her calling in footwear. Tejaswini always wanted to start a business and now that she had in-depth knowledge about footwear design, she decided to jump right in and started Kaalca

“My fascination with footwear started at a very young age. I vividly recall the bustling markets of Bangalore, where local artisans showcased their skills through intricate designs and vibrant colors. However, I also noticed a void – a lack of contemporary designs that could resonate with the dynamic lifestyles of the modern Indian people. This realisation became the catalyst for me to carve her niche in the world of footwear”

Kaalcari: Footwear Impact, Health and Wellness​

Currently, Kaalcari is working to make customized footwear for people. Tejaswini and her team meet up with a customer for the first time and take the foot measurements (and mind you, these are complex measurements beyond the length and breadth of the foot, such as the arch, shape of feet, orthotics, supination, pronation, etc.), to understand the customer’s individual needs, and craft the footwear. As a brand, Kaalcari is also investing in R&D for technology-enabling solutions that include food scans and 3D-designed orthotics, which can be hyper-customized.

The personalized experience of Kaalcari is what makes the brand unique! All of the information is communicated in detail with the artisans in the workshop and they get to design and craft the unique pair, as per the customer’s requirements and needs. From people with flat feet to older people with foot problems to diabetic patients, all the customers return to the brand to get customized footwear.

Kaalcari aims to address issues for people with foot problems, for example, diabetic patients often tend to develop foot problems and need to be extremely careful not to injure their feet. As a result, having footwear customized for the patient helps them as a precautionary measure and also provides a lot of comfort.

That is just one of the sets of customers Tejaswini caters to and she built most of her loyal customer base through word-of-mouth. This has helped the brand grow in Bangalore and Tejaswini often gets references through people who have tried her comfortable-yet-stylish footwear.

Stitching lifetime of partnerships

More often than not, people forget that the entrepreneurial journey of founders can be overwhelming and they might feel extremely lonely. While Tejaswini faced this hurdle, she found her people in the cultural entrepreneurship space through the NSRCEL’s Women Startup Program at IIM Bangalore. This CSR initiative by Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited supports aspiring and ambitious women entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into business ventures.

Tejaswini is in awe of the women entrepreneurs she met in this program, as they come from different walks of life and different sectors. She admires the fact that all the women there are supportive of each other ideas through the constant sprints, meetings, sharing of resources, and whatnot!?

While conversing with Tejaswini, one can see the gratitude she has for her mentors, peers, advisors, professors, and many more people who are part of this cohort. She applauds the program for the guidance she received and still receives from professors across the network and even support from external business advisors, sectoral heads, and many prominent business lead.

The Kaalcari Experience: A Walk in Elegance

Most of her customers are health-conscious people about 35 years or 40+ years old and much older people. Tejaswini also understands that her demographic audience is not limited to a specific group, as there are customers from the younger generation looking to buy personalized footwear for their family members (mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc)

It is interesting to note that her younger clientele find her collections on social media and contact her brand on Instagram, whereas the older customers come through references. The brand envisions a future where every individual can walk confidently in shoes that not only fit perfectly but also tell their unique ry.

Crafting Tradition with a Contemporary Twist

As a brand, Tejaswini wants to bring awareness to footwear’s impact, health, and wellness. More often than not, a lot of people in our country ignore their foot health till the point where they are in immense pain or discomfort. Kaalcari aims to create awareness of the importance of the right footwear for better posture and health, blending tradition with contemporary aesthetics, and creating a narrative of style and comfort.

From handwoven threads to intricate embroidery, every detail in Kaalcari footwear is a nod to India’s cultural richness. The designs draw inspiration from the kaleidoscope of Indian traditions – be it the vibrant festivals, the graceful dance forms, or the majestic architecture. Whether it’s a pair of Kolhapuri chappals or contemporary juttis with a pop of vibrant colors, Kaalcari takes pride in turning each creation into a wearable masterpiece.

Empowering Artisans

She has forged strong partnerships with local artisans, ensuring that their age-old skills are not only preserved but also elevated to new heights. The workshops, buzzing with creativity, are a testament to the brand’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.

One of the unique aspects of Kaalcari is its emphasis on empowering local artisans. Tejaswini has consciously chosen to work with skilled artisans, providing them a platform to showcase their skills. Tejaswini believes every pair of Kaalcari shoes should carry a piece of the artisan’s story, making it a personal and cherished possession for the wearer. The brand’s initiatives go beyond the realm of business similar to the founding principles of NICEorg, and aims to create a positive impact on the lives of those involved in the intricate process of crafting these works of art

Kaalcari in the Future: Walking Towards Innovation

As Kaalcari continues to make strides in the world of fashion, Tejaswini remains focused on innovation. The brand constantly explores new avenues, from experimenting with unconventional materials to collaborating with contemporary artists. Kaalcari’s upcoming collections promise to be a visual feast, marrying tradition with cutting-edge design concepts that push the boundaries of conventional footwear.

Kaalcari showcases that a brand is not just about shaping fashion trends but also contributing to a more conscious and connected world. In a realm where every pair of shoes is a canvas, and every step is a celebration, Kaalcari stands tall – as a beacon of comfortable yet stylish footwear.

All images are provided and belong to Kaalcari

Author: Maithili Rao

Maithili Rao is an engineer turned marketer. She is a Digital Marketing professional with more than 5+ years of experience working with various startups. Maithili enjoys interacting with dynamic individuals and writing about them, and the real-world connections; that matter the most in this day and age.

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