Jawad Malik built a premium custom footwear brand, which has garnered the love of thousands of customers and influencers across the world, with limited resources and while working a full-time job. We discuss the inception of IDRESE with Jawad, the difficulty of navigating a new business, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
The concept of IDRESE draws inspiration from a traditional European custom in which customers would walk into a cobbler shop to choose the colors, materials, and model type of their desired custom shoe. Cobblers would then take the customer’s specifications and handcraft the shoes. Jawad translated this model online and made it accessible worldwide.
He didn’t compromise quality for convenience, IDRESE shoes are handcrafted in Almansa, which is the shoemaking capital of Spain. The process takes a team of 50+ craftsmen and over 165 steps to make a single Goodyear welted shoe.
Developing the brand did not come easy. “As I was building IDRESE, I never had a solid plan of attack,” Jawad says, “I had no real idea on how to go about it, but what I knew was that in order for the business to go from being a dream to reality I had to fuel it somehow and by doing so I had to have a few things, like a consistent stream of income, a good supplier relationship, branding strategy, and effective marketing.”
Kickstarting the business took long hours and many side hustles. “When IDRESE was just an idea, the pursuit to make it a brand seemed almost impossible – I did not know where to start or if I could even afford to pursue it.” Jawad took a full-time job with a liquidation company and worked rideshare to fuel the brand.
“On my time off I contacted manufacturers and suppliers from all around the world to negotiate terms that I could manage within my constraints, which were lack of cash-flow and inventory space.” Jawad knew that, although his funds were limited, his idea was big and he could make it work through hard work and dedication. “After two and a half years, I was able to secure the production side for my custom footwear idea through cold calling and traveling to meet manufacturers.”
After securing the production and distribution side of the business, Jawad still had to tackle branding IDRESE. “I needed the shoe boxes, logo designs, web development, and many other aspects of branding, but all those things were expensive in the US, so I outsourced.” Jawad found that he could work within his strict budget and find talented designers outside of the United States market.
Jawad knew it would take a lot of market knowledge and research to start his business, so he mastered the market IDRESE operates in. “Get to know your market intimately so that you know what you are getting into,” Jawad advises other young entrepreneurs, “ask yourself questions like, ‘is the market saturated?’ ‘Who are my customers?’ ‘What value am I adding?’ ‘How am I going to effectively convey my message to my audience?’”
Entrepreneurship is not glamorous – it requires long hours, prolonged moments of frustration, and many unexpected learning curves. “Be open to adversity. It is a difficult road and hardships are the unavoidable tuition that you pay,” Jawad says. “But hard work and the continuous need to learn new things in your market will help you overcome all obstacles.”
Jawad believes it is important to keep a balance between prioritizing the bottom-line with his business ethics. “Morals and ethics are, by far, the most important features an entrepreneur must-have,” he states. “You must always treat your employees, customers, and partners with respect. To have such standards sets the tone for the culture you wish to create within your company and removes ego, which is detrimental to any start-up.”
There are many components and moving parts to take a business from idea to conception. Between the knowledge, money, time, and logistics, Jawad shows that building and operating a business is about navigating challenges and believing in yourself. “Accept challenges, keep learning, and remember that improvement is a never-ending process”.