Aleeyas: Bootstrapping Sandals onto the World Stage

Not every couple comes up with a new business plan on their honeymoon.

But that’s exactly what happened when Sharmeen Arain and Rax Huq put their day jobs on hiatus to go on a six month honeymoon. What they came up with was an idea for a highly marketable fashion product – just a single product – and with that they would be able to begin taking on the world.

Their start-up has only recently launched to the public, and it’s therefore too early to comment on the success of the venture, but the pair exude more than enough ambition to make up for that. Their brand, Aleeyas, is currently centred around a fashionable sandal for women – a product that they believe has enough legs to walk them around the globe.

In order to get a better idea of this pair’s plans, Power Retail recently interviewed Sharmeen Arain.

Aleeyas

Website: www.aleeyas.com

Launched: September 2012

Specialty product: Fashionable women’s sandals (with a twist)

Platform and Development: Magento – Community Edition, developed by Jimmyweb Web Agency

Point of difference: Interchangeable-look sandals and free shipping worldwide

Aleeyas sandals
Aleeyas – the fashionable sandal with an interchangeable top.

What is Aleeyas, exactly and how did the idea come about?

Aleeyas sandals are exquisite leather sandals with interchangeable jewelled tops, which are sold in sets. Essentially, this product gives you two pairs of shoes in one. You can swap the top of your sandal to match your mood or your outfit.

The concept came about when travelling overseas with my husband Rax Huq. We thought it would be convenient and popular among some people to have a pair of shoes that could change in appearance as required. It was then simply a case of deciding exactly what that product would look like and how that change would occur.

Rax and I both have digital backgrounds, having spent a few years working for Fairfax Media. For that reason the technical development side of our start-up business hasn’t been too much of a headache. Instead, we spent a long time designing the first Aleeyas sandals, as well as sourcing a manufacturer to partner with that would be able to create a high-quality product.

What challenges were involved with taking Aleeyas from concept to market?

The biggest challenge was to find the right manufacturer to work with in order to ensure the quality of our product was impeccable. This process took some time and patience but we are really pleased with the outcome.

Beyond this, the business is completely self-funded, which brings its own set of challenges. We hope to begin seeking investment in the future to really take the business to the next level.

What are your marketing priorities?

Aleeyas Founders
Sharmeen Arain and Rax Huq – Co-Founders of Aleeyas, husband and wife team.

Our marketing priorities are definitely all within the digital space. We are very active in the social media – particularly with Facebook and Instagram.

We have also produced a ‘How It Works’ video which explains our product to consumers – this is hosted on our website and we also run targeted YouTube pre-rolls to promote our brand. We also run Google advertising as well.   

Beyond that, we have been fortunate to have numerous young Australian fashion bloggers write about us, which has helped raise our profile within the fashion space. 

Where to next for Aleeyas? What are you expecting on the horizon?

We are currently working on new product designs for next spring/summer, we will bring out a greater range and allow further customisation of the sandals. As we offer free delivery worldwide we are also going to be engaging in marketing initiatives to focus on the US and European markets in order to build our brand globally.

We are constantly exploring emerging marketing and sales channels and will continue to do so with our focus firmly on delivering exceptional service to our customer community. 

Aleeyas online retailer content
Some examples of the content already available via the Aleeyas site.

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