Started Her Own Wollen Shoe Company As She Was Unable To Afford Shoes For Her Daughter – Now Exporting Internationally

Women Empowerment By Ritika Bidawat | 3 min read

Mukta's wollen shoe industry

Moirangthem Muktamani Devi’s businesswomen’s life journey began with a set of hand-woven wollen footwear for her daughter. The skills used in the time of crisis made her start her own business, a business which not only grew nationally but also internationally. Women are born fighters & I say, they win all the wars they stand upfront for, Meet Pratiksha, a Sweeper At SBI Who Worked Her Way Up To Assistant GM – 37 Years Of Suffering & Success

She was born in December 1958 and was raised by her widowed mother after her father died only when she was only 6 months old. She married Kshetrimayum Naran Singh when she was just 17 But the then-young girl lacked a happy ever after, her life was a difficult one as they started a new journey. Her husband was earning minimal in fact, the situation was so pitiful that she couldn’t even buy a new set of footwear for her baby girl. Muktamani was sad about her financial condition but did not give up.

Muktamani'S wollen Shoes Industry
Source – Facebook

She utilized her skill of weaving to knit woollen footwear on an old worn sole for her daughter. Her 3-year girl K. Ashima agreed on wearing them but she was worried as to how her teacher will react. She feared reprimanding her teacher because they were not her uniform. Her teacher, on the other hand, was intrigued by her footwear when she saw them & inquired as to where she had purchased them. They were so pretty & looked so warm that she wished to get a couple for her girl too.

wollen – Shoes that have travelled extensively

Imphal people gradually learned about woollen footwear made by Mukta, and she started to receive orders from the surrounding area. By the year 1991, she received a rush of orders & finally decided to start a small company called Mukta Shoes Industry, with her business Mukta’s wollen Shoes Industry she used her skill & started making hand-knitted flip flops, bellies, sneakers, shoes, flats, etc.

Initially, under Mukta Shoes Industry she started with 18 sets of wollen shoes at an Imphal trade fair, where she received positive feedback. She received praise from the industrial minister of that time. After the success of her first step of guts, there was no going back. And in no time Mukta’s wollen Shoes began receiving global bulk orders from Australia, Mexico, Japan, and many more countries.

wollen
Source – Facebook

Today She employs 25 people in the shoe industry and also subcontracts the work to native people. She started teaching people how to make wollen shoes, and individuals who complete the coaching are welcome to work for her after the training is over.

The footwear is made in sections by different people who are working on the upper part, base and so on. They are paid according to the amount & nature of their work. Mostly men cut & prepare the soles and women knit the upper body of the shoe.

The craft man can with ease cut 100 to 150 soles a day and earn Rs50 per sole, whereas those who stitch the knitted onto the sole earn Rs 30-35 per piece. Knitting requires the most time, knitting artists get Rs500 per day.

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Mukta’s designs are all authentic & designed by herself tho her muse varies depending upon the market’s shoe collections to create her own variant of wollen shoes. She carries over 20 different styles of high heels, sandals, boots, and flats for men, children &  women. Women are storehouses of talent & inspiration, but not all utilize their superpowers well. But some, simply amazes the world with their work blended with passion, say for example – Can you wear a story? Check an inspirational story of Mitali Madhusmita how she is presenting a visual story on the product designs

wollen Shoes Industry
Source – Facebook

specifics of the shoes

These wollen shoes keep your feet cool while also preventing foot odour. They are light and simple to clean.
Muktamani has surfaced as one of Imphal’s most sought-after shoe designers.

Mukta shoe industry has partnered with many digital sites & they get orders from all over India. Locally, they sell the products through army canteens & their workshop.

Making wollen shoes is a time-consuming process. A pair takes about three days to complete. Mukta gets her wool from local markets in Kakhulong and other Imphal neighbourhoods where traders bring the raw material from Ludhiana.

tho the locally found material was not of the best quality but her limited funds prevented her from investing in soles from Kolkata or wool from Guwahati. If she starts investing in tighter quality raw materials that will raise the cost of these handmade wollen shoes even more, & her local market will not be able to buy them.

Being premised in a land-locked state with a shortage of skilled labour and insufficient funds has hampered their plans to expand internationally. They get an order for around 1,000 wollen shoes from japan Australia & other neighbouring countries but they ran into several issues in sending the shoe due to a communication breakdown.

Mukta Shoes Industry
Source – Facebook

The footwear is shipped to Delhi first & then to the respective counties overseas by a middle-man which many times delay the delivery. Furthermore, small businesses face difficulties expanding their operations as the raw material is limited and low investor interest.

Muktamani got various awards for her excellent work as an entrepreneur including the Citigroup Micro Entrepreneurship Award 2006 (National Award), Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises National Award (2008), Master Craftsperson Receives State Award in 2008, Vasundhara NE Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 (2013-14) etc. Muktamani Devi received the Padma Shri award, the third-highest award in the Padma series, in 2022 for her outstanding contribution to the sector. 

Mukta Shoes Industry
Source – Facebook

Mukta, who has overcome adversity and worked hard to achieve success, & is now returning to society thru her free training programme, where Muktamani teaches knitting & design. A real inspiration to many around the country, we wish the Mukta shoe industry all the luck for the future.

Feature Image – Facebook

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