Founder, Neeman’s Shoes
Taran Chhabra is the founder and CEO of Neeman’s that’s disrupted the Indian footwear industry in a big way. But long before Taran made a niche for himself in the shoe segment, he was leading the corporate grind in major pharma and life sciences companies and was instrumental in their growth thanks to his business analytical skills.
His journey from a Business Analytics corporate leader to an Entrepreneur is laden with adventure, risk and self-discovery. They say that necessity is the mother of all inventions and Neeman’s is not left untouched by that. Once during his travels overseas, Taran who was chugging along Spain’s train station with his over packed luggage was frustrated to the point of asking himself that why did he have to pack and carry 5 different pairs of shoes! In his own words, he said he’d packed “a pair of formal footwear, a casual shoe, a pair of lounge footwear, a running shoe and an extra pair just-in-case”. He racked his brains to decide that if he was forced to pack just ONE pair of shoe that carried him comfortably from morning to night then which one would it be? Surprisingly not one brand came to his mind – that’s when he decided that if there ain’t one then he’ll make one!
With the seed of an idea, and being an outsider to the footwear industry, he started on a maniacal journey around the world to visit various shoe manufacturing hubs and was zapped to find that most shoes – yes even your favourite brand- are made of hazardous, non-renewable petroleum resources that take years to decompose. So not only were the current choice in footwear uncomfortable, inflexible to suit all occasions, force fit the foot to fix into the rigid shape of the product but they’re also extremely harmful to the environment.
The idea of designing a pair of shoes that adopted the shape of the wearer’s foot and took the wearer comfortably from morning to night without leaving a trail of massive carbon footprint fuelled the research and development team at Neeman’s. Through a lot of trial and tribulations the team finally zeroed in on the farms of Australia for sourcing the material of the shoe uppers- namely the fleece of Merino Sheep which are very close to human hair in biology – infact they’re 10 times finer. This property of Merino Sheep’s hair makes it perfect to wear all year round as it regulates the human body temperature as per the season. It keeps one warm in winter and cool in summer. Infact Merino Wool was being used in haute couture by many but nobody had tried making shoes from it in India. Taran recognized that gap and also pushed for finding the perfect solution of making the insole of the shoe from natural materials. Instead of using plastic that many brands use, Neeman’s chose to make it from completely natural castor bean seed oil. Not only are they extremely comfortable but they also adjust to the movement of the wearer’s foot thus making it an extension of one’s limb.
Being in the FMCG sector for about 3 years now, Neeman’s who’s name is a loving combination of Taran ’s parents first syllables -mother “Neelam” and father “Manjeet”, has soon learned that people today are wearing shoes for even longer periods of time and more than the flashy styles and designs what appeals to the customer is COMFORT. Infact it’s not surprising for Neeman’s customers to submit reviews like “it’s so light and comfortable on the feet, it’s like not wearing anything at all”. The choice of making shoes from natural resources is the core mantra for Neeman’s and despite pioneering the use of Merino Wool in the manufacturing of footwear in India, their research team is constantly looking for more innovative natural resources and fibres to make more shoes. The near future will see more designs of Neeman’s shoes making their appearance on the direct-to-consume website www.neemans.com as well in their upcoming brick and mortar outlets that are soon to be launched in various major Indian cities.
All this wouldn’t have been possible without the single minded pursuit of it’s founder, Taran Chhabrawho is a personification of the adage “follow your passion”. An avid fitness follower and a conscious foodie, he’s always on the quest of making better personal choices which led him to the founding of Neeman’s and the rest as they say is history.