KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Who, but a parent, knows exactly what kind of shoes a baby or toddler would wear right?
Enter Bebebundo, a homegrown brand started by a mother who was concerned about the type of shoes her daughter would wear. The name Bebebundo is an amalgamation of “bebe” which means baby in French and “bunda” which in Minang dialect means mother.
“When my daughter was about four to five months old, I was looking for soft soled shoes, those cute types. A lot of baby shoes here are hard soled and they are not that nice.
“I saw a photo of Kourtney Kardashian carrying her baby wearing baby moccasins. I later found out they were made by a brand called Freshly Picked and it is from the US.
“It was too costly for me if you think about the shipping costs included. Initially, I wanted to buy and sell them here but the price was too much,” said Farhan Nadia Bakly, the founder of Bebebundo.
Nadia, who was working in the corporate world back then and already had her first child, her son, wanted pretty and comfortable shoes for her daughter. So she decided to make her own.
She learned through trial and error, picking up tips and techniques from watching YouTube videos and reading online guides.
At first she bought scrap leather from a local shop but as the business expanded, she ordered Italian leather from Indonesia.
Bebebundo also uses leather sourced locally but those are for plain designs. For printed designs, she gets them from an Indonesian supplier who imports from Italy.
Her first project was a basic shoe. Since Nadia’s mother sews very well, she got some tips from her. From the basic shoe, Nadia started adding fringes, elastic bands and other baby-safe features to the shoes.
Nadia and her husband also go through a lot of research to make sure that the shoes are not just comfortable but have chemical-free leather to ensure that babies don’t get any allergic reaction from wearing them.
“If you get bad leather, you will notice the smell is off,” said Nadia. Now that the business has been going on for about year, Bebebundo will order 100 square feet of leather in a colour/design. Nadia’s husband will order 20 to 30 types of design so that is about 200 to 300 square feet of leather! The reason for their preference for printed design leather? Plain leather shoes are too dull for kids.
The first pair of baby booties she made were black moccasins and she said that the shape was funny. They were also crooked!
She managed to get it right after making five pairs of shoes. Her daughter is her tester and model. Nadia knows a design doesn’t fit comfortably if her daughter keeps taking off the shoes. While making shoes for Bebebundo, she also learned about sizing with 3.5 inches (9 centimetres) being the smallest and 7 inches (18 centimetres) the biggest.
Usually Nadia will advise customers to measure the foot of their babies first because although there is a a sizing chart, some feet can be wider or chubbier. The designs are unisex so baby boys and baby girls can wear any of the designs, whether it is the animal ones or the moccasins. “It depends on the mother. If she feels that her baby can wear something different, it is okay as well,” said Nadia.
Bebebundo gets feedback from customers on how well the shoes fit. Most of the customers say their babies like it that they are lightweight with the soft soles which are so comfortable, that they are like wearing socks.
“We also get feedback that our shoes are breathable because when our customer’s baby wears hard soled shoes, they get smelly feet. But with our shoes, they can wear the shoes without socks and there is no smell,” said Nadia.
Nadia does all the sewing while she has two helpers to help her cut the leather, package them and do the adminstrative work. Her husband helps her out on a part-time basis.
Nadia also designs the shoes so sometimes it is hard to manage the number of shoes she makes. “It is hard to do everything on my own,” she said. She tries to come up with at least two to three designs a month.
On a daily basis, Nadia makes around 10 to 20 pairs of shoes. She prefers to make it on her own because it is a delicate job that actually shows the stitching on the outside. If you make a mistake, it is easy to notice unlike clothes. Some parts of the shoes are handsewn.
When they get invited for bazaars, Nadia has to make more stock. This June, they finally opened up their showroom after selling the shoes online for a year. Next in the pipeline is having workshops on leather craft where they will invite special guests to teach how to make small leather goods.
Bebebundo shoes also have special editions such as the Merdeka edition. The shoes are priced on an average of RM89 per pair for the suede designs to RM149 for the printed designs.
In the future, there are plans to collaborate with local shoe designers and children’s wear designers to come up with different collections. For example, they plan to have matching onesies with shoes or maybe mother and baby matching shoes. Nadia hopes to be able to make other leather products such as accessories, small bags and wallets for children.
“For Bebebundo shoes, the leather gets softer after wearing the shoes for a few times. We also sell overseas, with stockists in Singapore and Holland,” said Nadia. The brand started off on social media and after that, 90 per cent of the sales came from the website.
Nadia encourages parents to come to the showroom to check out the shoes with their kids so that they can try them. Bebebundo also does custom orders.
Lot 10, Persiaran Damai,
Seksyen 14,Shah Alam