Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Viton.
ISKAY’s story started after Cynthia became a mom. She decided to leave the corporate world and dedicate herself to a more important role: being Sophia’s full-time mom. She decided to dedicate her time exclusively to Sophia because she was a total miracle.
Cynthia was told that her chances of having a kid of her own, were close to zero, and not even fertility treatments could help her. Luckily, her chances were not zero and after receiving the biggest blessing of her life, she became a stay-home mom. However, Cynthia always kept her dream of starting her own business. Consequently, a lot of ideas and discussions took place between 2015 and 2016 to find the best business option.
During a trip to Peru to visit her family, Cynthia saw these colorful Peruvian shoes and could not stop thinking about them. The sneakers not only caught her total attention because they were beautiful, but also because they were the perfect mix of colors, heritage, and fashion. Cynthia, a born and raised Peruvian, has always been surrounded by bright colors. After all, she decided that these bright textiles had to be the product she wanted to offer in the market.
When Cynthia returned from Peru, she showed the shoes to her husband, and he told Cynthia that he totally believed in the product and she should pursue her dream as an entrepreneur. Luiz was born and raised in a small town in southern Brazil around shoe manufacturers. Thus, Luiz became a partner to embrace Cynthia’s dream.
She went back to Peru looking for the artisans that made these beautiful shoes. When meeting with them, she explained her idea and partnered with them in order to sail out in this new adventure of introducing these Peruvian handmade shoes. She did not only want to show the bright colors of Peruvian textiles but also to connect them to the world.
We chose ISKAY as our brand name because of its meaning. ISKAY means two (02) in Quechua, the Inca language. Our brand is a perfect fit to our business because the “ISKAY” (TWO) hands that create the shoes make the “ISKAY” (TWO) feet that wear them able to walk a colorful path that takes them to the adventure called LIFE.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As of today, our company is about a year old, and as it is for all entrepreneurs’ adventures, ours has not been a smooth road. Even though Cynthia, an economist, and Luiz, an accountant, are comfortable working with numbers, they are challenged when they have to focus on new areas, such as marketing and sales.
The first challenge was to find out what colors and sizes they have to offer. Working with shoes can be difficult because you have to know your customers’ needs, and the right combination of colors and sizes to offer them. Currently, this is still a challenge because ISKAY is collecting data to understand colors and sizes trends to supply the demand.
The second challenge we faced was to define the sales channels. Originally, we thought that a Facebook page would support our direct sales model. For two months we’ve worked receiving orders through FB, but we realized that it was not going to be enough. Thus, we built our own website using Volusion platform, and with that, all the challenges of designing and creating an appealing online store came along. As an online shopper, Cynthia searched for ideas on the web, and after a few weeks, she was able to define a website layout, content, and pictures.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the ISKAY Shoes story. Tell us more about the business.
SICHI, LLC. the company’s name sells colorful, unique and handmade shoes. We honor Peruvian’s heritage by naming our company and products in Quechua, the Inca Language. Thus, SINCHI means “Strong”, “Brave”. Products’ names, such as TUSUY, which means “dance”, and KUSI, which means “happy”, are also in Quechua, the Inca language.
Our mission: “connecting Peruvian artisans to the world” is simple, but we believe it is powerful. We are a brand new company that cares about our artisans and our customers. For our customers, we offer unique and colorful sneakers, as well as free shipping within the U.S. and 14 days return/exchange policy with no additional cost, as well as great customer services.
We are proud to be socially responsible, and our commitment to the people of Peru runs deep. Working with Peruvian artisans, we are able to generate more jobs with a fair wage, and consequently, improve living conditions of those that make your path bright and colorful.
Additionally, for each purchase, ISKAY donates 5% of its net sales to a Peruvian non-governmental organization (NGO) called MAKALLAY (https://www.facebook.com/makallay). Makallay means “hug”, also in Quechua, and it embraces Peru’s poor communities working on improving their living conditions.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Being an entrepreneur for the first time is challenging and brings some uncertainties. Our first uncertainty was about the product. “Is this the right choice?” “Will the colorful Peruvian handmade shoes appeal to people?”
However, after some time, the feedback we’ve been getting from our costumers, has made this uncertainty fade away. We are proud of our hard work when we see the happy faces of our customers when they see the sneakers for the first time. We are proud when they try them on and comment how unique, colorful, and comfortable they are. We are proud when they start referring our products to other customers, and when we see returning customers buying more sneakers.
Additionally, we started our company thinking about social impact, and on how we can really make a difference by helping others. Our commitment to helping others depends on our customers: the ones who believe in us and can make a difference with us. As a result, we have been proud that we could support people in need since our start date. We feel we are achieving our social goal since we are being able to donate food and basic items for those in need (for instance, the Harvey Disaster Relief efforts, and our continuous support to Makallay, who helps Peruvian’s poorest communities), and that also has been making us proud.
We would like to thank our customers who have been helping us to make this happen!
- Any of the High Tops – $70
- Any of the Low Tops (including slip-ons) – $60
- Ballet Flat – $38
- Address: 14100 Genesee Trail, Austin, TX, 78717
- Website: www.iskayshoes.com
- Phone: 512-221-4800
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (customer support email)
email@example.com (corporate and business purposes email)
- Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/iskayshoes
- Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/IskayShoes
Amanda Beenen, Luiz Schafer