I started the journey of G.L Smart Shoes as a sole proprietorship in 2008 in Kishoreganj. Before that, I used to work at a local shoe factory alongside my studies. I managed to study till grade ten. Working in the factory for two to three years, I picked up necessary skills and got familiar with the local market retailers to source raw materials. This helped me to start my own business by taking some financial support from my family as investments. Starting a new business at such a young age was tough but my knowledge from my previous workplace made it easier to move forward.
Right now I am focusing on meeting the local market demands to sell my products. In doing so I am facing two major problems. One is finding loyal and skilled employees. Workers would learn or get trained for their specialization and eventually leave once they know it all. Manufacturing a shoe requires multiple teams skilled in different steps of the entire production. Due to lack of workers, it gets difficult to have all functional teams operating at the same time. This pushes back production in different stages. On the other hand, selling shoes does not always reward direct cash. Most customers purchase products on credit and this results in inadequate cash flow. To survive in such a saturated competitive market instant cash is very essential to making profits once payment is made. Also, because of many foreign products getting introduced into the market and the use of modern machinery, the demand for local handicrafts in the shoemaking industry is reducing with time.
Just like any other business, the pandemic took a toll on my business as well. I had to pay my employees for two to three months with no ongoing sales and had to keep my store closed for six whole months. The uncertainty kicked me hard as an entrepreneur to keep my business going in the middle of lockdown and provide for my family. However, as everything started to reopen and get back to normal, I took some loans from the bank which enabled me to restart my business.
I came to know about LightCastle Partners as they came to visit our factories. It’s been two years since I have collaborated with them. They provided me with social media marketing opportunities to showcase my products and bring in more sales, and also receive payments right away. I look forward to more such opportunities to expand the marketing for my store. This would also help me receive some funding for factory development so that I can manufacture export quality products. In future days, I plan to create more scope to export my products and develop my factory with more modern machinery to meet the finest quality.