In Conversation With: Vrinda Gupta
May 1, 2021
Global Footwear Awards Category winner Vrinda Gupta discussed TEAL Design, GFA 2020 winning design.
Making its debut on the international design stage, Global Footwear Awards (GFA) has begun its global search to identify the most innovative design in footwear. TEAL Design was awarded the best in ethical footwear category for pro level.
TEAL Design are a labour of love and passion and made in our atelier by our skilled artisans from India. The shoes are 100% handcrafted as we strive to empower and enable the beautiful, traditional craft of hand making shoes. Our chief designer Vrinda Gupta shuttles between India and Singapore to work on her passion project -TEAL. She specialises in surface ornamentation and intricate hand embroidery in her designs.
Our packaging our upcycled dust bags made by recycling wasted fabric from other designers. We work with a NGO supporting women – Literacy India to craft the dust bags.
Vrinda has been in the Footwear Industry for the last 12 years and her experience ranges from designing, retailing, manufacturing as well as training and mentoring. Her brand TEAL is based on the foundation of her belief in empowering grassroot artisans and working alongside them in India to create world class designs.
GFA talks with Vrinda about her winning project.
What do you see as the strengths of your winning project?
First of all I have a lot of gratitude to be able to win this and would like to thank the esteemed jury and the organisers of the first ever Global Footwear Awards. The strength of my winning project has been what my company truly stands for – aligning, preserving and empowering traditional shoe making techniques of the uber skilled craftsmen of India. The brand is what it is because of them. That has been duly recognized and awarded and am very thankful.
What does this award mean to you personally?
Running TEAL has been my labour of love and passion. Getting this award has instilled in me the confidence that I am on the right path of what I am trying to achieve – aligning the welfare of my skilled artisans is something that is being recognized and awarded. Its made me want to continue on this path with all my heart.
What is your guiding design principle?
My guiding design principle has been hand craftsmanship and hand embroidery and all my designs are a testament of that.
How/when did you discover that you wanted to work in design?
After being in the footwear industry for 6-7 years – in retailing and buying, I wanted to explore the world of footwear designing. I went to ARS Sutoria, Milan to do a course on Developing a Footwear Collection. Subsequently, I came back to Singapore to do my Diploma in Footwear Design and Product Development at TaF.tc. This experience gave me the confidence to design my own collection and work with artisans in India to materialise it.
What would be your dream design project?
My dream design project would be to a part of a collection of footwear in collaboration with Gucci’s Alessandro Michele.
How has the pandemic affected your work and design process?
The pandemic has been something that none of us had ever imagined or prepared for. It has been an extremely unexpected hit to the business. The welfare and interest of our artisans has been of prime importance with the lockdown in India and beyond. We have managed to raise some funds for them and also consistently tried to support and work with them through this period. Its been limiting for a small business like mine but work like contract manufacturing, free lance designing and consulting are some things that have got us going. With the pandemic focus has been on fewer designs rather than new collections as trade shows and physical interaction with customers has been limited.
What would you tell your younger self seeing you winning the awards?
I would tell myself to keep believing in what I was doing and things would eventually work out with patience and perseverance.
What is your design mantra you live by?
I live by the design mantra of seeing beauty and inspiration in everyday life. Anything from a flower, to a chair can be a source of unbelievable inspiration. Its all about keeping your mind open and seeking it.
What advice would you give to future aspiring footwear designers?
Be original. Don’t be swayed by what you see others doing and make sure your means of business are fair and ethical.
What do you wish to see more of in the footwear industries?
I wish I would see more of – more sustainable material – that even small suppliers have easy access to like mushroom leather, ethical work practises with workers, less of mass production and wastages of inventory.