Published: 11th August 2020
Here's how this start-up is creating sustainable footwear from old rubber tyres and reusable fabric
Kurio does not only make eco-friendly footwear but also creates hair accessories, brooches, folders, fridge magnets, pouches and a lot more
The generic notion that sustainable fashion or eco-friendly but aesthetically appealing products are quite expensive, is what Megha Rawat is trying to change. Hailing from a small town in Rajasthan, Megha (28), currently runs her own start-up called Kurio Designs that creates and sells environmentally-conscious, upcycled, vegan footwear and other unique products. What stands out, even more, is that these products are made by local artisans and women self-help groups (SHGs) to provide them with a regular source of income.
Kurio was founded in 2013 with the thought of not just making a product but something that has a story behind it and has a way of giving back to society, says Megha. "I grew up in Rajasthan in a lower-middle-class family and I have always been passionate about the environment. When I was younger, my brother and I used to go fetch water from nearby canals after school ended. We had no running water in our house for years. We were taught not to waste water and electricity and so we valued everything - we had to fetch every single drop and this had a huge impact on me," Megha recalls.
Megha grew up in Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan. She later pursued a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the National Institute of Technology in Kurukshetra in 2014. When Megha moved out of her small town to the city for further studies, she saw people purchasing things without giving it any thought. She herself sometimes indulged in rash buying when she lived in the hostel, Megha tells us. “Soon I would discard them as I would move out of somewhere. At first, I did not realise what I was doing, but then I dwelled on it to understand the ‘true cost’ of it all,” Megha explains.
Megha tells us that she learned the art of recycling materials from her mother. "My mother would barely buy a readymade dress for me, she used to make it from their old salwar suits or sarees. When these were torn she would reuse them as table, TV set covers etc. So I saw that there was no concept of waste and one can use or recycle things until they are at the point of not being usable anymore," she adds. Growing up, Megha also had an interest in stitching and combined with that her love for the environment led to the birth of her brand Kurio.
Kurio does not only make eco-friendly footwear, but also creates hair accessories, brooches, folders, fridge magnets, pouches, and coasters and more. They mainly make flat, casual chappals which are quite well known among their customers. Their footwear is priced between Rs 1000 to Rs 3500 and they also make customised shoes, the prices of which depend on the type of the fabric and other materials used. "We try to minimise the usage of virgin material as much as possible. Our shoe soles are made of recycled tyres and the straps and coverings are made of hand weaved fabric or reusable scrap fabric. Most of the materials are sourced locally. Artisanal clusters around Mumbai also help us procure the items," says Megha.
Megha tells us that she had to do a lot of groundwork to get the karigars or traditional shoemakers on board. "I wanted shoemakers and did not want the products to be made from a factory. These artisans live in various pockets in Mumbai who were in the shoe-making business but were out of jobs because of machine intervention. I took a while to get them together, they were apprehensive at first, but more people joined eventually. They were also quite eager as their income was regularised," adds Megha.
Kurio makes aesthetically appealing, usable and affordable footwear and that is what helps them stand out. "People should not buy the products out of pity but because they like it and want to contribute to saving the environment. That's what Kurio aims to promote," concludes Megha.