Today we’d like to introduce you to Farrah Chow-Quan.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Farrah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The country was in a recession and I lost my job. Being in marketing was a non-essential position and finding another position was proving hard to come by, so I was forced to re-evaluate. I always knew I wanted to start my own business, but I didn’t know what I was passionate enough about to embark on… until I did.
I did an exercise I found in a book where I prioritized what I wanted, then reprioritized again and then some more until it drilled down to what I call my Aha moment.
Growing up in Trinidad & Tobago, I was always involved in the annual carnival festival. Yes, it’s a major street party, but it’s also part of my country’s culture. Before doing the “Aha moment” exercise I had a seedling of an idea that I wanted to create a line of women’s shoes for this and other festivals like it. It wasn’t until I really gave it some serious thought that I realized 1: There was a segment of people like me out there looking for a cute, colorful, comfortable festival footwear, and 2: This market was beyond people traveling to Trinidad & Tobago for Carnival, there were carnivals/festivals around the world and year-round.
So, after my market research, I pitched the idea to my dad and with his blessing, a personal loan and maxing out my credit cards, I built a website, ordered inventory and started a business.
Almost nine years later and my company has grown tremendously, we have now secured distributors in several countries and operate a year-round e-commerce business focused on festival-goers, ravers and any fabulous, funky woman looking for unique and inspiring accessories.
Has it been a smooth road?
There have definitely been upsets along the way.
My first few meetings with potential buyers, I was so nervous I was sweating so much a few of them asked if I was okay and needed a drink of water.
I got the opportunity to provide shoes for a fashion show of carnival costumes by one of the leading Masquerade bands in Trinidad. The shipment of custom boots arrived, 2 days before the fashion show, during the practice for the show the soles of the boots were unsticking and falling off. I got a phone call at 11 pm and panic ensued. We got a local cobbler to repair and reinforce all the soles, crisis averted and lesson learned.
Starting a business from scratch, not knowing at the time too much about e-commerce, manufacturing, the fashion industry, import/export, fulfillment, and shipping, there certainly was a lot to learn and many teachable moments. Many tears and times of wanting to give up. But my customers are happy, they keep me going. It makes me happy to see people having the time of their lives at these festivals, which for many are once-in-a lifetime events, and they feel good, they are comfortable and they are confident because of products they’ve purchased from Carnival Kicks.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Carnival Kicks – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Carnival Kicks specializes in festival shoes and accessories.
I am the owner and I design and manufacture our own line of footwear specific to the needs of festival-goers/masquerader. That is shoes that are comfortable, functional and stylish/funky enough to compliment the outfits that these ladies wear to these events.
What sets us apart – listening. Always taking the time to listen to our customer feedback and make changes to our design, or innovate new products to suit their needs.
Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well positioned for?
While it may still be a male dominated world, there is a movement happening right now for women by women. Women supporting other female-run businesses, men taking notice and supporting women in leadership roles, there’s change happening and there will be many opportunities to come out of it.
- Website: www.carnivalkicks.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/carnivalkicks
- Facebook: facebook.com/carnivalkicks
- Twitter: twitter.com/carnivalkicks
Photography: Meiling Bansee, Models: Kavell Keir, Dria Olsen, Lisel Butts, Nil Bambu