Entrepreneur

Vertically Challenged Guys, Go Thank This M'sian Startup For The Perfect Shoes For You

I believe that one of the main insecurities a guy can face in his life concerns his height. In our society, it can be a little embarrassing when your lady partner happens to be taller than you, especially if the difference is fairly obvious.

This is what Anthony Teh felt when he stood next to the love of his life who happens to stand at least two inches taller than him. Be it in their wedding shots or in their daily lives, their height difference was very apparent.

Image Credit: SCHUHSTER
Image Credit: SCHUHSTER

The couple felt like this problem was not just something they faced alone. In fact, the average height for Asian males is 5 ft 7 which is fairly short compared to those in other continents.

“My husband personally felt that dressing up tall is an interesting concept for men and it can be an advantage when you are in business meetings as it gives off the persona of confidence. That’s what we wanted to provide—confidence,” said Shayna.

So to solve this issue, Anthony came up with a way that would help boost his confidence with not just his outer appearance but also his inner pride as well.

Reach The Heights You Desire

L-R Before and after Image Credit: SCHUHSTER
A satisfied customer before and after (Image Credit: SCHUHSTER)

SCHUHSTER is a local brand that customises shoes with insoles provided in them to add a height boost for men and women who want to dress and feel good.

“Instead of selling it as a footwear for short men, we wanted to make it seem like a fashionable item for dressing up to look good. Even if you are 5 ft 7 and your partner is of the same height, you can also boost your height with SCHUHSTER to match her if she wears heels,” said Shayna to Vulcan Post.

Currently there are 3 who act as the core operational team. Shayna and her husband are the co-founders supported by their operations manager, KS Lim.

“Anthony is in charge of all the IT aspects while I am the creative director. KS Lim is responsible for the production and delivery. We’ve been working solidly for nearly 4 years now and I feel that our team is doing well,” said Shayna.

The team started properly doing research back in 2013 and had their first batch of shoes out mid 2014 to test out their market. It wasn’t until 2015 when they started aggressively looking for distributors and retailers to start pursuing SCHUHSTER seriously.

7 Centimetre More 

So how does one go about ordering these customised shoes?

The categories are split into Classy Formal and Cool Casual for their Men’s collection and they also have Women’s collection as well as MAD Kollection. The prices range from RM200 to RM899 and they’re categorised based on the material you choose for the shoes. The price tag may appear hefty for some, but especially for men, their local choices are limited, and the materials and customisation seem to justify the price.

They even include a guide on proper care to maintain the shoes so they remains in pristine condition.

The website is clear on how much height is added when you wear their shoes. The highest height that can be added is 7cm; this applies for both the men and women’s collection.

Image Credit: Schuhster
Image Credit: Schuhster

If you’d like to see what the inside of it looks like, the picture about breaks it down. For men who are concerned about wearing “high heels” and the possible discomfort they might feel, the padding and the arch support helps to keep the shoes comfortable and wearable long-term.

Bringing Life To Their Kicks

Shayna shares that the total time it can take to come out with a collection can total to around 6 months.

To break it down, the designing process involves sourcing for materials such as leather, fabric lining and colour in order to create a prototype. After the first prototype is designed, there may be some changes to be made on the lining or the colours may need to be tweaked so the overall back and forth process can go up to 3 months.

Manufacturing will then take another 2 months and by the time it is all delivered to their warehouse, another whole month is gone which completes the entire cycle of 6 months.

Though they initially started off their manufacturing process in a local factory in Seri Kembangan, costing issues became a concern as it was rather pricey and the couple had noticed that the quality of the skill sets shown by the factory was not good enough. So they ventured out and sought for factories in Thailand and Vietnam that were more cost-efficient but still provided them with great quality service.

Walking To The Future

Image Credit: Schuhster
Image Credit: Schuhster

Currently they are aiming to capture the Asian market as they originally intended for their footwear to be geared more for those who have insecurities with their natural height.

“Right now, all our efforts are going into making sure we can grab the people in Asia with our shoes but we have also happened to have orders from the UK as well as Australia which is a huge boost to our confidence as sellers,” said Shayna.

Shayna has mentioned that their customers are generally receptive to the idea and aren’t afraid to try new things. What now hampers SCHUHSTER’s growth is the lack of awareness when it comes to the concept of their shoes.

“The idea of having insoles has actually been a practice in many countries yet many are still unclear on why we have them. Men tend to see them as heels while they’re not technically so. That is why we design our own shoes and emphasise on having stylish, fashionable shoes while the additional function of boosting the height is more of an added advantage,” said Shayna.

Their next goal is to expand their distributors to other Asian countries besides Hong Kong and Singapore where they have already gotten contacts there. They’ve also spoken about how different countries may have different tastes in what they may find appealing in terms of classiness and fashion trends so they want to cater to these different trends.

“We want to make sure SCHUHSTER has a presence. Currently, we are experimenting on our ladies’ range focusing on comfort with heels which is kind of a contradictory concept but we believe it’s a challenge we can take. We have our Homford Arch, which are ladies heels that do not injure your back,” said Shayna.

The team also plans to incorporate men’s accessories when they’ve stabilised their markets and can afford to experiment with a new direction.

“We hope we can break the stigma with SCHUHSTER promoting that dressing tall is part and parcel of dressing up. The goal is that men can accept it like they accept men’s skincare products by famous designers,” said Shayna when asked about the stigma of men being conscious of their height.

The idea of helping men gain confidence is appealing. If women can flaunt around and feel sexy in heels, why can’t men feel the same albeit the ‘heel’ being inside their shoes? Confidence can always be gained and the fact that a pair of shoes can help them feel that way makes me feel like their footwear can go far.

Feature Image Credit: SCHUHSTER

 

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