Any fashion conscious woman who has ever had to take off her high heel shoesduring an evening out due to aching feet, will understand what an incredible invention portable, rollable shoes are. Tashmeen Authar, co-founder of Rollasole Africa, is bringing this wonderful concept in footwear comfort to the African continent.
LoA found out more about this great business concept from co-founder Tashmeen Authar this month.
What does your company do?
Rollasole manufactures and sells a range of ‘fashionable rollable shoes’ rolled in a compact form with a high heel carry bag, designed to fit into most handbags as an instant solution to high heel pain. Rollasole is a practical utility product, which solves a common problem, in a convenient and fashionable method. Suitable for ladies of all ages, Rollasoles can be worn for everyday activities that require comfort and style – the ultimate emergency shoe in a can. Rollasole SA has complete distribution rights to import, distribute and retail Rollasole shoes and vending machines in South Africa. Distribution channels entail the use of a courier service to distribute the product within South Africa and to neighbouring countries. The company currently manages operations of importing, distribution via wholesale and retail mediums. Being a proudly South African BEE company, Rollasole SA aims to grow its operations in eCommerce and manufacturing over the next few years and become the leader of compact footwear on the continent.
"Rollasole manufactures and sells a range of ‘fashionable rollable shoes’ rolled in a compact form with a high heel carry bag, designed to fit into most handbags as an instant solution to high heel pain."
What inspired you to start your company?
The dream was to always run my own business – but I never knew where to begin. I always dreamt up various ideas but fell into the rat race of working for someone else while day dreaming about owning a business of my own. My husband and I came up with a challenge for me to investigate – I’ve always complained about how sore my feet are after a night out partying. So we decided to design a high heel shoe that could convert into a pair of flats. Approaching it as engineers, we began with research and due diligence in terms of market research, whereby I came across the concept of Rollasoles. I fell in love with the pure simplicity of the solution at hand. Why design a complex high heel that converts when you can just make a pair of rollable flats convenient enough to carry anywhere!
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Commonly, ladies who wear high heels will eventually remove their shoes and continue barefoot, or carry extra shoes in their handbags and vehicles, or will choose to sit rather than stand in their stilettos. Rollasoles provide a convenient alternative as rolled up flats, consequently allowing you to look fashionable anytime, anywhere (since they can always be carried around in their rolled- up, compact form).
"Rollasoles can be worn for everyday activities that require comfort and style – the ultimate emergency shoe in a can."
Tell us a little about your team
Rollasole SA (Pty) Ltd is owned as equal shareholding between Amalesh Authar and Tashmeen Authar. The husband-wife team have a combined 20 years of work experience managing medium to large scale engineering projects. At present, our team comprises of one IT specialist, one book-keeper and our social media content generator/copywriter. We are proudly BEE compliant, and encourage our team to develop their skills while working at Rollasole. All our employees do not have strict hours, as we prefer them to have free time to be creative and for personal development. Thanks to technology, we can work with our team from anywhere in the country – in fact our copywriter works from Durban while we are based in Johannesburg!
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
With both parents being entrepreneurs, and watching them in business, always provided inspiration for us as a husband-wife team to go out there and create something of our own. However, we were always deterred from pursuing the road to self-employment, being warned that the road is hard and that a steady pay-check with dedicated leave is a better road to follow. However, our hearts always envisioned building a business, to provide an innovation that would change womens’ lives and give them the freedom that they needed. The journey to Rollasole started as a problem solving exercise, which I approached as an engineer – how to make women feel comfortable after hours of being in heels. The development of Rollasole in SA has been an exciting journey, from design to marketing – and part of the fun is that the fashion industry couldn’t be further away from an engineer’s mind. Engineers by design are methodical and straight thinking, and shoe design and creating a fashion business for the female market certainly throws in a few curve balls! My husband and I started the business in 2013, a year after getting married, and we used our savings to develop the website and create the first 1000 pairs of shoes. Our business has always been thought of as our first child, and we spent almost every night for three years working on every aspect of it. They say being an entrepreneur will make you sleep like a baby, you eventually wake up every two hours and cry! The Rollasole journey has been nothing short of remarkable, and every day I am filled with pride to see our “first born” grow from strength to strength.
"Rollasole SA aims to grow its operations in eCommerce and manufacturing over the next few years and become the leader of compact footwear on the continent."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Our vision for the future is that Rollasole will become a household name. We envision that every woman that has a pair of high heels, will own a pair of matching Rollasoles. If she chooses to wear a pair of leopard print stilettos, she can easily slip into her matching leopard print Rollasoles when the need arises. Rollasole has made big steps globally by being featured on the feet of many celebrities at the Golden Globes after-party and our aspirations include worldwide after-party domination as well! We will also be expanding our operations into manufacturing and retailing via shoe vending machines.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
It is wonderful to hear how everyday women use Rollasoles in their lives, and that it has given them comfort when they need it after a long day in the office or at a party. Nothing is more satisfying than coming to the rescue of a damsel in high heel distress! The greatest joy in being an entrepreneur is also that every day is different. There is always a lesson to be learnt, and some lessons are more expensive than others! But there is some satisfaction in knowing that growing a business may come with some failures, but there is a lesson in each that make you stronger and better.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
No matter how many deterrents there are, keep your focus. You will fail your way to success, and your next breakthrough will always be right on the edge of what you deem a failure. Everyone will try to give you advice (generally the ones who do not have a business, will have the most to say), and heed this advice with a pinch of salt and again keep your focus!
Contact or follow Rollasole Africa
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love hearing about women entrepreneurs who are bringing something new and innovative to the business table, and that is certainly the case with South African entrepreneur Tashmeen Authar, co-founder of Rollasole Africa. She is introducing a whole world of fashionable rollable shoes to the African continent, all of which conveniently fold up in the handbag to be worn at any time when comfort and portability is needed. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa