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While working in the US in 2018, Chhabra realised that the shoe market in India had room for a player that focussed on sustainability and social values. Through their research, the duo (Taran and Amar) saw that India’s shoe industry is dominated by synthetic fibres and materials that are cheaper and easy to source, but which have a lot of impact on the environment. So the startup set off on the path to reduce carbon footprints in the footwear industry and work more closely with suppliers to source raw materials sustainably.
Neeman’s claims to have grown 15X in 2021 in terms of revenue and customer base. It raised $2.7 Mn (INR 20 Cr) in a Series A funding round to expand its product lineup and enhance sales. It also took its first step towards retail selling with a store in Hyderabad. The company’s products range from INR 2,999 to INR 6,999 in pricing and are on par with various other international brands.
The founders claim that the biggest USP for Neeman’s is that it uses natural, renewable, recycled and biodegradable fibres in its shoes, which have a considerably lower impact on the water table and ecology. The wool used in its shoes is non-mulesed and no sheep are harmed in making of the footwear. The wool is procured from Australia from familyowned farms and it has a quality number associated with it to track the origin. The merino wool can be used in all-weather products. In India, the fleece of native sheep is a lot thicker so this material can only be used for winter footwear, unlike Merino wool.
Though not 100% carbon neutral, the startup believes that sustainable sourcing will prove to be a lesson for the industry at large. The company has introduced unexplored yarns and materials to the footwear market in India - including Merino wool, recycled PET bottles, recycled tyres and recycled cotton and more. Its flagship products are ReLive Knits, which are made with 100% recycled plastic as well as the wool joggers and eco flip-flops made from recycled tyres.
The short term plans for this footwear brand are geared towards launching new products and increasing its market share. It is also looking to bolster its offline presence, while focussing on product development and exploring newer natural and sustainable materials. Plus with the funds raised, Neeman’s is looking to cover key markets outside India too.