updated 23 May 2012, 05:00
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Tue, Feb 28, 2012
The Business Times
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Get peachy pairs of sandals
by Melissa Lwee-Ramsay


318 Tanglin Road, Phoenix Park
Block B #01-36

OPENING an online shop was hardly on Kristy Weller's mind when she was holidaying in Sicily last year. Until she stumbled upon a local shoemaker Simona di Gregorio stitching together leather sandals by hand while wandering around the town of Taormina.

"Personally, I've always had difficulty finding the perfect pair of sandals until I stumbled upon Simona's workshop," recalls the managing director of PR and marketing communications firm Hive Consulting.

"Her husband's parents are shoemakers so they taught her how to make each pair by hand - all she has in her tiny workshop is a little sewing machine. But what really enticed me to buy the sandals was how customisable the sales experience was."

Each pair is customised, from the design right down to the colour of the buckle. "I was so happy that I could get a pair of yellow sandals with the right coloured buckle," she says.

"And then I thought, wouldn't it be great to offer this same service to customers in Singapore and the rest of the world?"

With that lightbulb effect, she set to work on her business model and her online store Peachy (right) was launched last month as a sideline to her day job at Hive.

In the spirit of di Gregorio's personal service, Weller offers customers the option of customising their sandals online as well. Through a form on the Peachy site, customers can decide on the colour of the leather used to make the sandals as well as a choice of gold or silver for the buckle. You can even see a picture of your final creation before you purchase the sandals.

Special made-to-order pieces for oddly-shaped feet are available as well but for this you need to visit the Peachy showroom at Phoenix Park to get your feet measured.

"What you end up with is a pair of sandals that are as good as if you designed them yourself, and I think consumers really like the idea of buying something that is not a cookie-cutter product," she says, adding that the footwear has been popular with women aged between 20 and 40.

"I definitely think that women in particular love the idea of being somewhat involved in the creative process."

On top of the Simona sandals, Peachy also stocks eel-skinned wallets and purses from Pratten, trinkets from Danish designer Anne Black as well as an in-house range of jewellery Weller designs herself.

To cater to a growing demand for made to order goods in the market, Weller made sure that like the Simona sandals, most of the pieces in the Peachy Designs jewellery collection can be customised as well. A customer can choose, say, the colour of an owl pendant, as well as the kind of necklace they want to pair it with.

"It gives customers a bit of flexibility when it comes to price," muses Weller. "If you want something a bit cheaper, you go for a leather necklace but if you have a bit more to spend then maybe a chain in sterling silver. We understand that not everybody wants to spend $100 on a piece of jewellery but, most important, you get to design a personalised piece of jewellery that you love."

Weller is also on the lookout for new brands to add to the business. Handbags, she says, is her next port of call.

"Ideally I would like to have a bag label that offers the same level of customisation as Simona," she says. "but if not, it should at least offer a really wide range of colours in a wide variety of fabrics."

Pricing also has to be competitive. The owl necklaces for instance range from $22 to $31 and the eel skin products between $77 for a purse to $178 for a tri-fold wallet. The sandals are $140.

"We want to be known as a place that offers a wide range of customisable accessories that are not only well-priced but good quality as well."

In short, the kind of place where each purchase will leave you feeling, well, just peachy.

This article was first published in The Business Times.

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