If you follow Hometown, you might know that we write a handwritten personal note to each customer. Recently we ran our sale on Fab.com. Despite the fact we didn’t know who’ll be buying our shoes from there, I and my co-founder Sidra wrote handwritten letters and included them in the shoe boxes while shipping.
Some people replied back using email. Here is one of the conversations:
From: Felix K. To: Waqas Ali Subject: Reply to your letter
Dear Waqas Ali,
first of all i would like to say that i am very happy with my new shoes. You and your team did a very, very nice job! Thank you for your letter. It was very surprising to find a letter in the box. This gave the shoes a very personal touch. Even the fact that you take the time to write a letter (by hand) shows that you take care about your customers. I wish more manufactories like yours will combine perfect craftsmanship with current technologies. Keep it going, and thank you and your employees.
With best regards from Lake Constance, Germany
Felix J. Keller
My reply to Felix:
I am very honoured and humbled to hear from you. And that, such a positive note. Thank you again for taking time to do this for us.
That is right that Hometown combines craftsmanship with technology and storytelling. Stories just like these.
I never knew that Lake Constance is a place in Germany, now I know that and may be sometime I shall come visit you. Your feedback is very valuable and we’ll make Hometown even a better place to buy from.
If it is okay with you, consider sharing a picture (or more) of yours with Hometown shoes. We would put this in our office.
And if we can help in any way, please write me here like a friend!
Best wishes from Lahore, Pakistan
Sincerely, Waqas Ali.
The purpose of sharing this conversation is, so that other can learn from our experience and use something out of it.
I am sharing a glimpse of what is happening around HOMETOWN.
This is what’s keeping me away from blogging too.
HOMETOWN started without any formal office, we used KFC as workplace. As they had power all the day and let us sit.
Three days back, we shipped our first shoes to India. Randhir, our customer took the risk of ordering shoes from Pakistan. It is not conventional to ship something from Pakistan to India, because of the political tension between both Governments.
It was a moment of trust for him. I am proud and humbled to say the trust is well placed.
Do you think FedEx or DHL are utilizing the most advance + cost effective technology to run their operations? I doubt.
I’m building a startup in Pakistan, and we sell / ship shoes around the globe. From here, DHL, UPS and FedEx charges $50-$70 to ship a pair of shoes in US / UK. So we depend on a small local company which buys bulk space from big logistics companies and sell to businesses like mine at a cheaper rate.
From my tiny personal experience of working with logistics companies, I realize one thing. Like many other industries out there, logistics companies are far behind in using the innovative technology. They must do it for efficiency, to save money and time. If they do so, it is treat for us and for them too.
Technology has enabled us to communicate from any corner of the earth and beyond. And we are doing it. I* You can make payment anywhere in the world, and buy or sell too. But shipping, it is still expensive, risky and not fun. It badly needs to be changed at earliest.
And I believe a company like Google will do it, or may be Amazon, or Yours (why not?!).
We can wait for few days, for big news to come and then we’ll share them with people we care, and who care back. This is what I have been thinking, and taking a little break from writing and then 3 solid months pass by.
Yesterday, I wrote this letter to the community around HOMETOWN.
I believe life is treating you well, and you are doing good in health and happiness.
Here at HOMETOWN, we’re going through the most exciting time of our life. I mean it, please give 3-5 min to read this email. I’ve tried to make it worth.
1. WON Pakistan’s First Startup Incubation Program
Yes, next month we are shifting to our new office. Out of 500+ startups, HOMETOWN made it to the top position among 4 winners. We’re very thrilled about this opportunity.
2. Now Accepts PayPal and Major Credit Cards
I can not thank enough to our customers like yours, who took out the time and paid us through Western Union. That’s what makes you our friend. We’re improving how we sell, communicate and all. So it comes as a good news that we’ve setup PayPal & Credit Cards as our payments gateway.
3. HOMETOWN featured as “Innovation Hero”
Provincial Govt of Punjab, and Google Inc, launched Innovation Campaign in Punjab, Pakistan. In there, they featured inspiring businesses and individual as ‘Innovation Hero.’ We’re so honored to be among the 5 heroes. Here is the complete story.
This is best. Every morning, we get up for two main reasons. 1) Are we establishing an honest and trustworthy connection with our customers? 2) Are we really growing?
Both of the reasons are equally important to us, let me tell you small stories.
Bill from Singapore, bought a Chappal from us to gift to his father-in-law. Now that is very exciting.
Tahreem from KSA, ordered for beSpoke shoes to wear on his wedding day. Later on, he asked that if we could add a different buckle with shoes. I said, why not! But then, I said, wait a little and we make another pair for you with different buckle and you keep both shoes with you. He asked, can I get brown colour instead of black, as I already have a black now. I said, all done!
There comes a time in life, when you prepare yourself for a big day. You have thought about this time for years. And now you finally made it in a series of events.
For some it is getting admission at a remarkable college, or marrying with right person, for some it could be buying the first shoes for their parents.
Here at Hometown I and my team are in the middle of such moment right now.
Launching HOMETOWN! Oh WOW! Our first collection includes, ready to wear men shoes, wallets and belts and a special Pakistani footwear, called Chappal.
So no matter who you are, what you wear (canvas trouser, jeans, kurta or anything in between), and in which part of the world you live. You can surely shop one thing or two, or just come over, see what we have been doing, tell us what we should. More, you can also get custom shoes just made for you.
HOMETOWN came into exist for two main reasons, I and my team wanted to play our best shot so far, and to make use of exceptional skills of our craftsmen.
We short-listed several products, tried to find what can be done, and what will work best. For example, we failed 24 times, to make one of our Chappal. And now when we see it, we feel like, you know how it feels.
They say, journey of one thousand miles start with one step, it can be short, or slow, but it is probablly the most important. We have taken it, you’ve taken it, if you are reading this post and I so believe together, we’ll learn how to live a better life and celebrate all what it has to offer.There is so much more to say, but I’ll let our products and service communicate that with you. Thank you so much for being with all the time, and if you have any thing to say, I force you to write in comments on Hometown Blog or here.
NEWS: I got funding for my business project. Read below to know more. 😀
Earlier this year on Jan 28 (which is my birthday), I shared what I have in mind for 23rd year of life.
“This year is gonna be the most important phase of my life. I especially love having all of you on this journey, through blogging, social media and phone calls and yes in person. I’m looking forward to execute number of projects in business and of my life.”
Here is what happened so far, instead of getting more business I started disbelieving in what I was doing. I started feeling unhappy about myself. <– I think it happens with everyone of us at sometimes.
But writing this blog made me focused again, I kept going with learning, making more genuine friends. I started loving and believing in myself.
In 2010 I was having a conversation with a group of people in my hometown. Who were talking about how things are in Pakistan and how west is involved in all this. A 51 years old guy named Mohd. Hussain (who is now my friend) told about a text message stating how Facebook is hurting muslims by promoting blasphamious content.
Then I interrupted the discussion and told them what is true and what really is social media. Later me and Hussain had a long conversation where he told me about his business. He and his small team, makes 100% hand-stitched leather shoes.
Because of very limited resources, they were compelled to sell them to some big brands. Which makes money from him, and he doesn’t as much.
I asked him, why don’t we sell them online, I offered him my help. But we couldn’t get started because both of us couldn’t arrange extra money for that.
I kept trying, asked to some of my rich friends but resulted nothing. Then I started looking for funding, we applied at P@SHA ‘s Social Innovation Fund, and yes we made it.
Out of 370 ideas which were submitted, we made in the first 3. You can see first round winners by clicking on the image in left.
I appreciate P@SHA, sponsors and judges who encourage my idea, and providing financial and consultancy support. Me and my team is genuinely thankful to them for believe in us and what we aim to do. It’ll be fun and the work we will love to do.
And I believe coming days are far brighter and full of learning. Thanks to each and everyone of you, who visit and encourage me. I’m happy to surround myself with people who lift me. And I look forward to kill what I eat.
One more thing.. There is also another interesting and big project I’m working on with some of the best folks I know. Stay here.. Right here and we’ll make it.
I’m so happy, this’s post which is also 100th post on this blog is a truly special. I believe no need to outline today’s learning, just keep learning, relearning and unlearning. Change your actions to achieve different result and you’ll change world for you. Thank you again very much, I’m full of gratitude now. Happy!
Have something to say? Would love to see you in comments.