Meet the London shoe company revolutionising the fashion industry

Interview | Retail | South East
Paul Kaniuk

In a world where people are being more conscious of the environment, there has been a rise in the number of companies looking into how we can avoid throwing away our possessions. One London-based company has established itself as the city’s leading premium shoe cleaning and restoration company for premium designer shoes, sneakers and designer bags.

Business Leader spoke to Paul Kaniuk – Managing Director and Co-founder of ShoeSpa London  – about how the fashion industry has changed and how tech has revolutionised the whole sector.

Can you give our readers an overview of ShoeSpa London?

Sustainability, re-cycling, up-cycling, fast fashion – these are all current, hot topics and consumer focus is shifting from buying to ‘re-using’ and this is where ShoeSpa London is leading the way.

ShoeSpa London aims at disrupting the traditional aftercare industry by implementing new restoration technologies, as well as by offering a convenient online and courier service. Their restoration service motto is: “Repair, Re-Use, Restore”, focussing on the luxury and designer market.

The business promotes sustainability and creativity by encouraging people to restore their favourite shoes and bags instead of buying new ones every season. Services include shoe restoration, shoe repair, shoe dyeing, suede shoe cleaning, bag repair, revitalising, colouring, cleansing and refreshing.

I truly care about the environment and I realised that there was a lack of services specialising in luxury and designer items, in particular shoe and bag restoration services, and so I decided to set up my own business.

Customers can drop into the state-of-the-art London Store at Kings Cross for free consultation and advice and customers from all over the UK can send their shoes and have them delivered back as good as new.

What do you put your growth down to?

Without a highly motivated and happy team, there is no business. It is vital to ensure I not only have the right team and that they believe in what they do, but feel they have a purpose so that they work hard to help to grow what they are a part of.

We have definitely created this work ethic at ShoeSpa, so with such strong foundations, the business has a solid platform on which to continue growing.

Innovation is a key word at ShoeSpa. We are here to disrupt a very traditional industry, so we have looked at all aspects of the business and have worked hard to innovate in all areas. For example, our customer-focused services, our simplified ordering process and courier services. Innovation with our technical solutions is vital. We have focused on value creation for customers for efficient restoration of heavily damaged items. We have also developed new technologies such as patent leather restoration, and are currently one of the very few places in the UK to offer this service.

We are now focussing on cost-effective marketing and communications so people know we are here and are also fastidious about customer service and customer satisfaction; without happy customers, we will not achieve what we strive for!

Has the fashion industry changed in recent years to become more environmentally and ethically conscious?

Absolutely! There have been huge changes in the fashion industry but there is still so much more we could do. Fashion is a huge waste stream in the UK and statistics show that the average garment is thrown away after just eight wears. This ‘fast-fashion’ trend which is currently rife in the UK needs to slow down. This is why ShoeSpa can help to give much loved shoes and bags a second life!

Huge progress is being made in the UK in terms of awareness and best practices. Only recently, a report by MPs urged the UK government to end the era of throwaway clothes, shoes and bags in the fashion supply chain as this is has devastating effects on the environment.

It’s a great start but there is a lot more to do.

How has tech impacted your business and the fashion industry as a whole?

The fashion industry has been impacted by technology as it is revolutionising how businesses operate. Technology can help to create a more sustainable industry, instead of an energy-depleting industry, with processes being streamlined to improve efficiency. We all need to adapt and embrace these changes to ensure our businesses can survive.

ShoeSpa works with premium leather shoes and bags which require very special care and attention. Of course, we work with top industry experts, but we need to constantly match their skills and expertise with state-of-the-art technology. We design our own techniques and know-how which are carefully tested and constantly improved but this means that the technology we use has to be constantly updated if we are to continue to grow successfully.

Has the growth of your business been in large part by a younger generation?

You might think so but looking at the breakdown of our customer base, we span a wide range of age groups, from the very young generation, to the busy middle-aged group through to much older customers. This older generation often have well-made and much loved items in their wardrobe for years and are thrilled that these items can now be given a new lease of life! The pickup and delivery service we offer is very popular with them too.

It’s great to see that we don’t just appeal to one age range and we are particularly happy that the younger generation is embracing the opportunity to upcycle their shoes and bags rather than just throwing them away.

What does the future hold for the company?

Honestly, our plans for ShoeSpa are beyond ambitious! We have already made massive headway in disrupting the repair market in London and have started expanding across the whole of the UK, thanks to our pickup and delivery service. As far as we are concerned, we believe that there are no geographic limits to our services whatsoever. In business, if you give yourself boundaries, you often only work within them rather than expanding beyond them.

Our ambition is to become global leaders in our field, but our ethos remains the same; no matter how big we become, we will always keep our customers at our heart and will continue to help the environment by encouraging and promoting sustainability by giving your much loved shoes and bags a new lease of life!

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