A Year in the Life of Undandy
A Year in the Life of Undandy
‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’ –Samuel Beckett
Beckett’s quote could quite easily sum up the last year behind the scenes at Undandy. Originally founded in late 2015, the company really took off with rocket speed at the end of 2016, with co-founder Rafic Daud at the helm, to try and turn what had the potential to be an excellent vision of a business model into an actual scalable company. The challenge was set, and through much blood, sweat and tears shed, we can safely say that this goal is near in sight. As opposed to established organisations with clear objectives, tested methods and structure, a start-up is in its very nature, a lot more chaotic and naturally, Undandy had its fair share of growth pains. Yes, failures are an inevitable occurrence but the focus is on learning from the mistakes (at a fast pace) and overcoming these failures.
Our biggest problem over the last year has been the huge strain out on our cobblers at the workshop who handcraft each pair of Undandys, with an overwhelming and unexpected amount of orders, month on month. At the beginning of the year we were selling little more than 100 shoes per month, to now closing the year with over 1500 shoe orders per month! No matter how hard we tried with such exponential growth, inevitably customers were let down and disappointed with shoes arriving later than our promised two weeks, which was really heart-breaking. The ever-increasing demand with our production capabilities, is still one of the most difficult challenges to overcome and our main priority in the coming months. In 2018, we will be expanding the team, and production line, and learning from the growth pains of this year, with hopefully, more of an ability to forecast growth.
On a more positive note, we finally launched our new site (with a well over six-month delay) as well as launching a wider selection of coloured soles in April, along with our new expanding range of accessories, including shoe care kits, gloves and cardholders. All of this is helping to really solidify Undandy as a brand, we want to be able to offer our clients incredible products, all handcrafted the old-fashioned way with love, supporting our Portuguese heritage of world class craftsmanship and bringing this to a global platform.
One of the biggest internal challenges we face at Undandy has been hiring people with the right attitude, in essence, people with an entrepreneurial spirit, not to mention training them at lightning speed to cope with the fast pace of a start-up. Each member of the team needs to be able to rapidly problem solve, have the ability to think in the abstract as well as work alongside each other to create flexible processes. Nurturing this company culture has been one of the biggest challenges, but ultimately successes of this last year. We have now built up a team combining seven different nationalities from around the world, including Swedish, Australian, Canadian, English, Syrian and Brazilian as well as the native Portuguese employees, all based from our office in Lisbon. It’s this diverse mix of cultures and languages that is really at the heart of making Undandy a success. After all, the business is only as good as the people driving it.
So, what are our dreams and next steps for Undandy? As we look to the future, it becomes even more important to understand the lessons of the past. That’s why we are just as committed to sharing Portuguese craftsmanship and the time-honoured art of shoemaking with the world as we are to utilising the latest digital tools. We hope to keep improving this on both sides, with improved production whilst still honouring the craftsmanship of Undandy shoes as well as continually improving our site and online experience. Perhaps incredibly ambitiously, our ultimate aim is to become the reference point for customisable, direct-to-consumer brands in the men’s footwear sector. Today more than ever, companies need to add value to both their customers and society – profit should simply be a by-product. As such, we want to revive traditional values and the appreciation of fine craftsmanship through the use of modern technology, inspiring men to walk in the footsteps of great men.
And on a final note, we’d like to take the time to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, each and every one who has supported Undandy this year. It truly is the people that matter at Undandy, from our cobblers, to our customer care team and to our incredible customers, who make all the hard work worth it. From customers who’ve chosen to walk down the aisle in Undandys, to the unforgettable customer stories around their shoes creations and the genuine friendships we have made this year with some of our clients, we are hugely humbled and grateful to be with you every step of the way.
Here’s to good health, good principles, and above all, good shoes!