Meet the maker: Jay and Jothsna Rege – Paaduks

Meet Jay and Jothsna Rege of Paaduks - a social enterprise that upcycles rubber taken from discarded tires, used conveyor belts, old rubber mats, etc - to make a range of footwear.

Familiar with the term upcycling? Well, if you aren’t, you’re in for a treat. Upcycling is the art of recycling a material in such a manner that the resultant product is more valuable than the original. Paaduks is a social enterprise that does exactly that.

“At Paaduks, we produce handcrafted footwear made of natural cotton fabric and jute,” says Jay Rege, co-founder of Paaduks. He continues. “The soles, on the other hand, are made from upcycled rubber taken from discarded tires, used conveyor belts, old rubber mats and so on.” Jay also adds that up-cycling of discarded rubber does not involve any chemical processes.

But that’s not the end of it — Paaduks is more than that. The wonderful people at the enterprise run a cobbler welfare initiative for their craftsmen, under which they remunerate them fairly for their hard work by paying about three times the average industry standard.

Paaduk’s master craftsmen at work

“We also ensure that their children get access to quality education,” says Jothsna Rege, the second co-founder. “Over time, we hope our profits will enable better healthcare for a sustainable life in cobbler communities.”

To run such a venture is no easy task, but Paaduks has a wonderful core team that makes life easier. While Jay and Jothsna are in charge of marketing and finance respectively, Jidnyasa Butley (Sales and Operations), Carol D’Souza (Designer), and Mohammad Nasim (Production) handle the other major departments with aplomb.

Jothsna and Jay (center), surrounded by the Paaduks team

But how did it all begin?

“Well, it all started in 2013 when we stumbled upon an article that discussed the possible reuse of scrap tyres as footwear soles. Excited about this possibility, we decided to give it a shot. Looks like it worked out just fine,” says a grinning Jay.

Apart from the business aspect of it, Jothsna says that working with the cobblers made them sympathise with the multifarious socio-economic problems they are often plagued with. “They are constantly exploited by retailers and wholesalers who pay them a meagre amount for long hours. Coupled with delayed payments, it sends them into a limbo of never-ending debt.”

She also adds that unhygienic living conditions and lack of quality education only compound the problems. “Hence at that stage, we took a conscious decision to address these issues and make them the priority for our venture.”

In today’s money-grubbing world, for an organisation to feel this strongly about both the environment and humanitarian causes is genuinely refreshing.

Beautiful and super comfortable, upcycled footwear from Paaduks

But where does Paaduks go from here?

“People who love handmade and eco-friendly products would love our merchandise,” says Jay. “Similarly, those who appreciate the hard work put behind designing the quality footwear and our Cobbler Welfare Initiative would certainly love it too.”

The aim above all, Jothsna says, is to provide their hardworking cobblers with regular and sustainable income. “Eventually, we want to provide cobbler families with great healthcare facilities.”

At the moment, though, she says their marketing and sales efforts are focused on reaching a much wider audience.

“Ultimately, want to spread the love for handmade fabric shoes to people worldwide. We’d love nothing more than to see people all over the globe wearing Paaduks!”

You can learn more about Paaduks’ wonderful work on their page here.

To read stories about all our makers click here.

Rameez Shaikh

Rameez Shaikh is a twenty-three year old writer. With a degree in journalism to his name, he's an aspiring author with an absolutely astounding admiration for alliteration. Leisure propels him to read, dance, pen fiction and gloat about himself in third person. On weekdays, he works as a features writer. On weekends, he's a Manchester United fan.

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