Youngsters Divya Raheja and Harsha Chordia translated friendship into a designer passion. Payal Chhabria narrates their tale...

Divya Raheja and Harsha Chordia have a story to tell; a story of friendship. And it is appropriate because they are best friends. However, they don't narrate the tale. They live it time and again, through their deepest passion — footwear designing. MINK — Footwear And Accessories, stems from their peculiar fascination for footwear, their intense zeal to carve a niche for themselves and simply from the bond they share.

Dream realised

“Well, it all began in MOP (MOP Vaishnav College For Women), when we had the opportunity to participate in the MOP Bazaar — an exhibition that encourages student entrepreneurship. We were keen on settling on something that was out of the ordinary and we loved footwear. So we set up a very distinct stall, where we designed footwear on the spot with the help of a cobbler, to the specifications and taste of the clients. It became a craze with the women and that marked the beginning of MINK,” narrates Divya, with a wave of nostalgia.

Fresh out of college, where everyone else celebrated freedom, these women decided to indulge in the art of design. It was the summer of 2011. Accompanying the Pina Coladas and Bloody Marys were beads, bows, colours, checks and flip flops. “It was a time when we were just experimenting. We wanted our clients to tell us what they wanted. So we set up a small workshop at home and began our own design house,” says Divya.

Since then, MINK has grown into a beautiful mansion. Their products, priced affordably between Rs.300 and Rs.500, is now available at boutiques across the country — Yellow Button in Bengaluru, India Kitsch in Kolkata, The Wardrobe in Hyderabad, apart from catering to their regular clientele comprising mostly youth. Divya says, “We do have older people coming to us. However, they mostly turn to us when they want to spice up their boring, single coloured, health-friendly footwear.”

Creative touch

In spite of expanding their horizons, the duo still believes in crafting everything themselves for footwear that they usually handpick from the retail market. They are also involved in hand-painted t-shirts and jerseys. In the accessories stream, they deal with neckpieces and hair bands. However, they will not refuse crafting anything else that you may be looking for. Their products can be ordered via their Facebook page or over the phone.

Their design sense is almost impulsive and perhaps that's what makes the MINK brand so distinctly fresh. “In the recent past, kohlapuris have gained popularity. Just about everyone is a fan. A client was looking for something unique in the variety. So we looked around the office and saw a bunch of checks stacked up. We knew what we had to do. It was spontaneous,” shares Divya.

They work with kolhapuris, crocs and flip flops. Yes, they are available at every nook and corner. But, have you come across flip flops with gathers of balloons'? Or crocs decorated with bows? Or checked kolhapuris? Well, if you haven't, you need to find your way to MINK because here is where they sway their wand and turn the ordinary into extraordinary.

For more details and orders, log on to: www.facebook.com/minkfootwear or call: 9884754859

Payal is a I Year M.A. Communication student at MOP Vaishnav College for Women.