Monrow founder Veena Ashiya goes on shoe pilgrimages, has an entire room dedicated to footwear
Founder of Monrow Shoes, the 33-year-old entrepreneur remembers fussing about what shoe to wear even as a five-year-old. “I would decide which shoe to wear before selecting my outfit,” Ashiya says.
At 16, her dad gifted her a pair of Ferragamo ballerinas, something that she has preserved till date. “That was the first time I heard of the brand. And since then, it has been one of my favourites as the craftsmanship is unparalleled,” she says.
Her first expensive shoe-buying experience, Ashiya says, was in New York while she was working for the Italian luxury brand Versace. “I would spend a lot of time at Nordstrom looking at beautiful shoes but barely being able to afford them.” To celebrate her 25th birthday, Ashiya bought herself a pair of Dior shoes. “They made me feel like a rich girl in a big city,” she laughs.
Ashiya owns more than 200 pairs of shoes that she stores carefully in a 15x15 sqft shoe room in her south Bengaluru home. “My motivation to start Monrow came because I wanted to give women shoes that not only looked great but also were comfortable,” she says, drawing from her experience of owning exquisitely beautiful shoes that are not high on comfort. “I personally test each design, before sending it out in the market. As a woman founder of a shoe brand, I can empathise with my consumer a lot better,” she adds.
In her 15 years as a shoe collector, her most prized possession is a nude pink, handmade and calf leather Ferragamo shoe and convertible sneakers from her own brand. Ashiya, a globetrotter, also makes it a point to visit shoe stores in cities around the world. “I do a shoe pilgrimage especially in cities like Tokyo and Paris. While the former is famous for its Sneaker head genre, the latter is great to observe designs that are abstract as the French capital offers shoe makers an art influence in their creations,” she says.
Among her memorable experiences is buying baboosh (soft ballerinas) in Marrakech. “There are boutiques where shoes can be customised to match one’s skin tone. The shoe maker displays swatches and one can pick the exact colour or tan they want, which was an experience that has stayed on in my mind,” Ashiya adds.
To store shoes well, Ashiya recommends not keeping them under wraps all the time. “Shoes need to breathe and should be aired. Keeping humid-controlling sachets in shoe closets is a good idea, especially in Bengaluru weather,” she adds.