Melbourne’s Custom Sneaker Co takes off raking in $450k in 8 months
When a young Melbourne couple lost their jobs and ended up on Centrelink benefits, they used the time to turn a hobby into a business that made $116k in one month.
When Melbourne couple Audrey Palupi and Jeremiah D’Souza went out in public they would often be stared at by strangers.
While it may sound like a creepy thing to endure, they were actually a walking advertisement for their future business.
People were lusting over the personalised sneakers they had created and were desperate to know where they came from.
It was just a hobby for the pair after Audrey, 20, saw sneakers with a butterfly on them in America but baulked at the enormous shipping costs, so decided to make her own.
Then the pandemic hit resulting in both being stood down from their casual job. Audrey was working as a swim teacher and Jeremiah was a team member at a Glue store.
“We were jobless and had no income and had to rely on Centrelink at the very beginning of the pandemic and we had a lot of free time,” Audrey told news.com.au.
“As we posted more on our Instagram, people were loving our designs, loving our art and loved having something that was unique.
“We pretty much wanted to be able to provide something that you couldn’t find in the shelves as we were working with only plain white Nike Air Force sneakers. We wanted to able to give people the freedom to have whatever they wanted on the shoes. It was about designing special pieces for people.”
They launched Custom Sneaker Co and the business took off as online shopping became “massive” in Australia as people endured lengthy lockdowns, Jeremiah said.
It’s seen the couple rake in $450,000 for the first eight months of year and over $116,000 in August alone.
Their shoes, which sell for an average $300, include a combination of hand painted, printed and stitched designs, as well as using a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine to cut stencils and create labels.
“We can literally bring anything to life with something as simple as a photo or someone’s business logo or family portrait – we can put all that on the shoe, “ explained Audrey.
Some of her favourite designs have been doing tribute shoes for family or friends who have lost someone to create a “memorial” shoe and a collaboration with clothing brand Meshki, which included a monogrammed reflective logo on the sneaker.
In the beginning they were just taking orders via Instagram, but when it climbed to up to 30 a day they realised it was time to create a website.
Jeremiah said the trend for customised shoes had become big over in the US and it was now catching on in Australia.
“It’s taken us by storm as we had no how idea to run a business so it was really difficult to navigate,” he said.
“No one paved the way for us within this industry – we are the first and biggest in Australia.
“There was no one we were able to reach out to and we had to figure it out and the growth came suddenly, when usually it takes a business a while to scale.”
The 22-year-old said the customisation trend is blowing up as it gives people the ability to express their unique personality and own taste on a shoe.
“I feel like everyone sees regular shoes on the shelf but by customising they can have what they love on it, like a favourite artist or cartoon or their loved ones,” he added.
With orders from Sweden, Romania, Germany, France, Italy, US, Canada and Russia, Jeremiah also found it “unbelievable” that they were known worldwide.
Audrey added sometimes it doesn’t feel like “real life” for the couple, who are high school sweethearts, to have a booming business at such a young age.
They are now looking at expanding into custom clothing and cutting their current production down from an average of three to five weeks.