Shazia Qaiser, 35, started up in 2014. Her Revival Shoe Laundry – the first such service in Bihar, she claims – provides repairs, cleaning and refurbishing of not just shoes, but other leather items such as jacket and bag. Born in Bhagalpur, the Silk City of Bihar, Shazia has a degree in physiotherapy and has worked with WHO and UNICEF. One day, she came across the shoe revival and laundry concept and decided she would start her own someday. She focused on market research for the first two to three years.
“I looked across cities for someone doing it, spoke to a lot of people about the idea, and realised there was no one providing the services I was going to. So, in 2014, I decided to startup.” She started with her savings and initially invested 1 lakh. Her startup is still bootstrapped. “For the first two years I faced losses, but refused to give up,” she says.
Revealing an interesting anecdote about her initial days, she says she disguised herself and at stepped out in December at 3 am – it was freezing – to ensure that her flyers actually reached people with their newspapers.
Given that her startup involves shoes, Shazia found it difficult to find employees.
Of the 50 people who approach me only three are keen to work since working with shoes doesn’t match people’s idea of ‘job status’, she says. She has been training women with little or no education to work in her workshops. “I try and employ as many women as possible,” she adds.
Shazia has two outlets in Patna and plans to open a few more this year; her vision is long term. But in the first years she wasn’t profitable and needed more help than family support. This help came when she was selected to be a part of an incubator in Patna.