Meet the maker: Devika Srimal – Kanabis

Kanabis footwear is more about founder Devika Srimal’s love of animals and her inimitable sense of style. Engrave decided to have a chat with Devika to try and get to the bottom of the Kanabis story.

First things first, it needs to be mentioned that the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘Kanabis’ is, ‘does it have something to do with cannabis ?’ (you can read more about the story behind the name a little later in this piece). That said, Kanabis footwear is more about founder Devika Srimal’s love of animals and her inimitable sense of style.

Kanabis provides an affordable, chic alternative to expensive leather footwear. Compassion for animals is one of the core values that drive this brand. That’s why Kanabis footwear is designed only with high quality fabrics and not leather. In other words, they are comfortable, stylish, and compassionate.

Devika climbing the ladder to success in a pair of stylish Kanabis.

Engrave decided to have a chat with Devika to try and get to the bottom of the Kanabis story.

Engrave (E): When, why and how did you get into this craft/business?

As an animal lover and PETA volunteer, I gave up leather few years ago and had a tough time finding good non-leather shoes that were stylish, good quality and affordable. I noticed the unstructured footwear industry in India – we either have the non-Indian players that are expensive and mostly do leather shoes or the unorganized/unbranded segment where quality, price, make etc. is questionable. It was almost a light-bulb moment when I thought ‘what the heck, I should start my own brand!’

E: Any interesting stories/moments from your journey. It could be a delighted customer or a special customer etc.

It’s always nice to see customers who come to our exhibition and say “We already have that entire row of your shoes, what else can we get today?”

A lot of them follow us on social media and comes to our exhibitions looking for those particular ‘yellow wedges’. We love it.

E: Why the name Kanabis?

Canvas was historically made from hemp, which came from Cannabis (aka marijuana). Since we are using a lot of canvas in our shoes it seemed appropriate to use the root word (with a tweak)!

E: What inspires you – designs / materials / etc?

We like to do something unique with each style we launch. Since we don’t use any leather, we are constantly exploring new materials we can work with. Each shoe also has a quirky name that tells a story about it.

Kanabis Shoes

All our products are made using high quality canvas, fabric, and other leather substitutes. Compassion for animals is a core value of the business. The designs are exclusive and tastefully crafted with a careful mix of fabrics for the right look and comfort. Naturally, we keep a close eye on the current and upcoming trends in fashion so our customers don’t have to.

E: Do tell us a bit about your journey so far.

The journey has just started or so it seems! It’s a lot of work with a lot of late nights and almost no weekends off. That said, it’s also very exciting because we feel we’re headed in the right direction. We have received very good response for our products so far. This motivates us to stretch ourselves more. Of course, we are only 11 months old in the market and have a long way to go. Happily, we are seeing a consistent increase in traction on our website, our social media pages, and offline sales. Touch wood.

E: Your plans for the future?

Our strategy is to bring something new every season and expand our offering. We are currently only focusing on the domestic market, but plan to start global deliveries at some point sooner rather than later. Finally, we are working on increasing our online and offline visibility in order to acquire new customers and earn their loyalty so they keep coming back for a new pair of Kanabis.

Thank you, Devika for taking the time to help us get to know Kanabis better. Before we go, the only thing we’ll say is this: from classic pumps to strappy wedges to good ol’ flats, all Kanabis products are PETA approved, vegan-friendly, and will appeal to not just activists, but anyone looking for stylish footwear.

All this is, of course, just the tip of the Kanabis iceberg. For more, visit the Kanabis Shop on Engrave.

To read stories about all our makers click here.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.


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