Hi! I am Juhi, the designer and founder of ZarsáLife. I know we have always posted about the mood boards and explained what our designs mean on Instagram and Facebook, but never shared my journey into this beautiful world of handcrafted shoes. People often ask 'why juttis'? So here's my story.
In the year 2015, I was trying to switch from being a full-time artist to becoming an entrepreneur. I wasn’t exactly sure of the plans initially but now that I think of it - this was meant to be. I am what my people call ‘crazy shoe lady’ because I LOVE footwear (frankly, who doesn’t) and have always worn juttis; the basic brown ones, with gold thread work which are very traditional. I used to wear them with jeans, pants, dresses and even short denim skirts. Always got compliments on how different and cool the whole ensemble looked. But I never found intricate, well-made designer juttis – the kinds I could wear with my little black dresses too.
I don’t know if you can relate but I remember the struggle of walking on the grass at receptions or get-together – I practically used to plow the garden with my expensive 5” heels because I was also a ‘no wedges – stilettos only’ girl. I used to carry a pair of flats at parties – would leave them in the car for my ‘I have danced too much in heels I need my flats’ stage. So one day I wore my pair of juttis only to suddenly realize how these can be transformed.
* Founder Juhi in conversation with Indian Women Blog
When I started ZarsáLife, designer juttis were rare to be found. I had heard of people experimenting with juttis and that gave me the confidence and validation that ‘juttis are back’. This looked like a calling because in very less time I found the artisans, handwork guys and of course things got into motion.
I designed my first pair of juttis and wore them for 2 months straight to do the quality test myself before launching it officially. I received a crazy amount of compliments and I was sold out in the first trial run. ZarsáLife which was earlier known as ‘Zarsá’ became really popular amongst the ladies I knew. Word of mouth is the best publicity after all.
I knew this could grow into something big. So I researched more.
I didn’t want to just sell – I wanted to sell quality – shoes that speak for itself and for that I needed to source things right. I traveled between Delhi, Jaipur and other rural areas of Rajasthan to gather material and information.
After the first run, I sourced different fabrics from different states, did a thorough research on types of hand embroidery, handwork and launched another set of designs for the summer collection.
When I started, the website was still in process but we were selling like crazies via Facebook. I remember the evening when I personally replied to over 300 messages and queries. My fingers were sore but I was elated at the response. I can’t thank you all enough for giving me the much-needed boost and making ZarsáLife what it is now.
* Founder Juhi in Fiza juttis