On your next trip to Mahabalipuram, make time for the footwear on offer at Shakti Leather House
If you want something besides branded luxe options and the shoes found at malls, drop by K Dayalan’s little store in Mahabalipuram. Over seven years in the business, the cobbler has been nurturing a clientele that includes foreign tourists, for his leather mules, bags and sandals. “I started off earning Rs5 a day, stitching shoes and bags. My uncle trained me and I worked for nearly 13 years near the Five Rathas, one of Mahabalipuram’s many monuments,” he begins. Currently, Dayalan makes Rs20,000 a month and has four workers under him. “I buy leather from Ranipet in Chennai and make shoes in at least 25 designs. I make them from what I’ve seen and learnt in the past. I use a lot of bright colours like pink, gold and red so the shoes stand out. Bright colours are always popular among expats.” The store also sells belts and wallets and allows you to customise. “Show me a design and within a week, we can make it for you,’’ he confidently says.
When people visit Moonrakers (the restaurant), they drop by his store to pick up shoes,’’ says Dayalan, who sees a full house on weekends. Dayalan whose products are also available at Curio Shack, a garment store in Chennai, is looking for additional retail points. “Vanita Nandakumar, the owner of Curio Shack picked up a few of my products, and then placed a bulk order,” says Dayalan, whose shoes cost between Rs400 and Rs2,000. Details: 9940461661