It’s no surprise that small businesses are having to fight harder than ever to merely survive another week. We’ve firsthand experienced a plethora of challenges on the daily, and this pandemic really has not been a friend to anyone on this planet (except maybe Pfizer at this point)
Albeit the challenges, we have received so MUCH love from all corners of the world, in so many shapes and forms, may it be by sharing our posts or sending us pictures and going as far as turning to us for gifting needs. We’re so grateful for supporters, buyers, consumers who have become more like friends than anything else.
When Meraki was born, one thing that was constantly missing from our interactions with brands was simply just being heard. Therefore it is in our DNA to constantly engage whether it be in person or now, separated by screens. Most recently, we were curious about how the Meraki community makes purchasing decisions, and the questions they have when they’re looking to try something new for the first time. The two most recurring factors that came up were pricing and sizing. After having several chats and conversations, we not only understood the hesitations but also realized how we’ve never fully lifted the curtains on how we do what we do.
If you’ve made it this far, we know you trust us and maybe even love what we do (wild) and so we’d like to break down what happens behind the scenes, in the most explicit way we can.
So the basics: our flats are a one of a kind take on the traditional khussa that many of you hailing from South Asia may already own. Our Founder, Eman, grew up wearing these BUT she was sick of her blisters, swollen pinkies, shoes that wore out far too quickly so she vowed to create something that may look familiar, but would definitely feel unlike anything you would have tried before. Traditional khussas are made of rigid materials (often sold as genuine leather but actually made of imitation leather or rubber) and lack sole support causing blisters and pain (we’ve all been there). Thus, when it came to developing products for Meraki, lots of things were important, but comfort and actually being able to wear the product for long periods of time were fundamental.
Each pair we make at Meraki is hand stitched by talented artisans in South Asia. These artisans and our team on ground ensures that each and every pair is brought to life with finesse and a whole lotta love.We use 100% genuine leather and have gone as far as adding cushion in the soles to guarantee comfort and ease for the lady wearing them. These flats are not only stitched to perfection but also made to last season after season.
We’re believers of mindful consumption, so creating a product that allows for longevity has been another value close to our hearts. For those who have tried to snag certain coveted styles may have realized that we do not mass produce, and, in fact want to focus more on producing and encouraging conscious consumption and creating a product that will become a staple piece in your wardrobe and will eliminate the need for you to purchase new shoes every month.
The value of creating something that is durable and high quality is one thing but then there’s a whole other arena of costs that determine our flexibility in pricing a product. One key example is of Shipping costs, which are a major portion of where our ancillary costs lie. Being a small business, we do not have the luxury of heavily discounted shipping rates that brands like ZARA do - and funnily enough, being the small guy also means that we pay for all the pile on costs "surcharges" that shipping companies charge, just cuz. Thus part of our pricing is also impacted by the brunt of the expenses to ensure customers have to pay the least amount to get the highest level of delivery service. To further support our customers we often run promotions such as free shipping on first order or free shipping after $99CAD or more. These offers stand because we want our customers to incur the lowest possible costs, even if requires us to tighten our belts even more.
Something else we want to highlight that we take immense pride in are our reusable fabric bags. These are the shoe bags that you will receive your shoes in, every single time. Each bag is handcrafted, using high quality fabric that keeps your shoes from getting dirty. The goal was to avoid using plastic or paper and instead use a material that was sustainable and can be used time and time again. While often a forgotten detail, an initiative like this costs us $2/unit more than it would to use single-use plastic. This is a prime example of a detail that is often taken for granted, but still incurs costs as means to bring consumers the best experience, while reducing our environmental impact.
An outsider, like I was, before I joined the Meraki Team, would often check out the website and wondered if I “really needed” the shoes. However, being a part of this team and consequently this movement of creating and consuming meaningfully has allowed me to understand the true value that small businesses and brands like Meraki create, which go way way beyond the price that you see on the screen.
P.s We absolutely do the happy dance every time we get an order ;)