Friday, September 9, 2011

The treadsetter

Woodland has not just carved a niche for itself in the shoe and apparel sector. Know what this massive player does beyond foot wear and clothes?

It's a successful shoe and apparel empire. Woodland is also helping 8000 families in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, get safe drinking water everyday.

Treading North

Since my childhood I have been a creative and adventure-loving person. Even as a child I believed in perfection and it helped me become what I am today. Academically, I was an average student but I had a flair for learning more. And because I have been involved with the family business since childhood, I knew what I wanted.

Furthermore, my passion for adventure sports reflects in the brand philosophy. We used to go for long treks where I developed a fascination for adventure sports. So in order to give students what we couldn't have, I am trying to inculcate the adventure lifestyle for school students. Our first initiative will be with Modern School, Delhi, where we are creating an adventure zone.

How it began

The brand Woodland is owned by Aero Group, the flagship company which began its operations in 1960's and now has an asset base of over US$100 million. Woodland was started in Quebec, Canada, for making winter boots and entered India in 1992. It was one of the brands that we launched in India from the vast portfolio of Aero Group.

When we entered India, the footwear market was largely unorganised. Woodland created a new category of specialised 'outdoor sports' shoes. Our product positioning was different and we were known as a rugged, outdoor leather shoe brand, the kind usually preferred by adventurists. Youngsters took a fancy to our shoes. That was in the beginning and we gradually developed a product line especially for India.

On the job

Being an outgoing person, I wanted to establish something related to the field of adventure. I faced a lot of difficulties in the initial years because of wrong adventure gear and it was a challenge to get the right gear in India. I used to pick up adventure sports apparel, footwear and accessories whenever I travelled abroad.

After completing my education, I started working with my father and created the brand Woodland. Our logo is a tree which in itself speaks about our connect with nature. After it was established, we created Proplanet, our corporate social responsibility (CSR) wing and have been working closely with nature-friendly ideas since.

Eco-friendly My main focus has been to bring to everybody's doorstep; quality and ecofriendly products. We use raw materials which are less harmful to the environment. Our main focus has been on materials like organic cotton, specialised fabrics for adventure sports.

Customer connect

Commercial success is necessary but customer satisfaction matters more. Today, when I see a person wearing a Woodland product, I feel very proud. Woodlanders are known for their spirit and enthusiasm. Our products and processes speak for itself. Today we have one lakh plus fans on Facebook who constantly give us there feedback. A lot of them also upload their pictures sporting the brand and various adventure events.

A social server

Very recently, Woodland under its CSR wing Proplanet, tied up in a four month long association with the United Nations agency United Nations Children's Fund to promote their WASH campaign which aims to provide safe drinking water to 8000 families in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.

We are reaching out to our wide customer base to contribute Rs 10 to the cause against every purchase they make. Besides this, we look to partner with entities that environmentally committed, eliminate toxic and hazardous substances from products, minimise resource wastage, disclose their environmental footprint, and take responsibility for proper waste management.

Tips for success

Clarity: To know what you want personally and professionally, question your resolution and clarify.

Exploration: In order to learn, one must experiment. Try to learn from the experiences of life.

Patience: Instant gratification is not always possible. Gaining exposure in the early years is more important that a higher salary.

Presentation: It helps communicate, which is essential today. A lot depends on how you present yourself.

Reproduced From India Today. © 2011. LMIL. All rights reserved.



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