By Carla Maradey
Ana Boluda moved to India from Spain a year after I arrived in 2013 following her heart, the love of her life, or what we refer to as our “better halves.” Ana is a spirited Spanish lady with great style and taste. She had a great idea and made the most of the new opportunities in her life. She explored this vibrant city and worked to understand how to make it her own. My hats off to you, my friend!
After a few months, she had a clear vision and decided to execute an idea. Easier said than done. What follows is a candid Q&A with this aspiring entrepreneur, I am proud to call a dear friend.
Interview with Ana Boluda
Mangoli Mag (MM): Hi Ana, although I have already given some info about you to the audience, please tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to India?
Ana Boluda (AB): Thank you very much, my dear friend, for your lovely words. I came to India for the first time in 2007 for an Indian wedding. I fell in love immediately with the authenticity of the culture. I liked it so much that I convinced my sister six months later to come back and travel around the country. During this two month trip, I had unique experiences and met some fascinating people. On my last day of that trip, I asked God, if one day you send me a person to share my life with, I wouldn’t mind if it were from this beautiful country. Six years later, in Spain, I met my fiancé, and guess what! He is from India… Life is beautiful!
(MM): What year did you arrive in Delhi, and what was your initial impression of India? Were there any challenges in adjusting to life here?
(AB): In 2014, I came to Delhi to spend the winter months. I wanted to discover from a different perspective the city and the culture. I liked it very much. I met exciting people from around the world. The biggest challenge for me was to adjust to the air quality, noise, and traffic. During that time, I lived in Ibiza, a small beautiful Mediterranean island, which was a significant change for me.
(MM): Did you ever imagine you’d be living in India and become a local? What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and launch your company?
(AB): Not really, but I’m pleased now, and I will not change it. I think I am fortunate to spend my life between India and Spain.
What inspired me the most was the fascinating Indian fashion world. I was enchanted with the contemporary Indian fashion! I love fashion, and I have always been susceptible to useful materials, natural fabrics, and quality things. And as you know, what is happening with the Indian fashion world is very interesting that I immediately fell in love. It opened my eyes to think seriously about what I wanted to do in my new life. I have always been a shoe lover. My country is one of the best in manufacturing quality footwear and exporting it all over the world. What I noticed was that good quality shoes at affordable prices were missing in India. So I decided to start my small adventure designing and importing the most traditional and authentic Spanish hand made shoes, espadrilles!
(MM): Where are you based at the moment, and how has the global pandemic affected your plans? What would you recommend for transient expats like yourself?
(AB): Now I’m based between Ibiza and Delhi. The global pandemic affected me and my business. I can not travel to India at the moment, and I miss my Indian family, my dear friends, the clients and my studio. As for my business, I had to change the business model to online, which is very good. I’m quite surprised how well I am selling now across the country. However, I miss the personal touch and sharing the one-on-one time with my clients, which I think is hard to replace.
(MM): We love Spain and the Spanish ladies’ shoe style and sandals, “Esparteñas or Alpargatas.” Why did you decide to bring this style of shoe to India?
(AB): Or you can also call them Espadrilles! I love Espadrille shoes. I grew up wearing them every summer. They are the most comfortable and stylish shoes for summer and the Indian climate. When I thought about starting my shoe business, I knew I wanted to start with the Espadrilles wedges. After experiencing a few uncomfortable situations myself, like walking on Delhi’s pavements or partying with heels on the grass in Delhi’s busy social life. I did not doubt Delhites needed Espadrilles sooner than later. They are the perfect day to night shoes!
(MM): Can you please tell us a bit about your current shoe collection and how can our audience find out more or better yet, order a new pair of Espadrilles?
(AB): The essence of our Espadrilles brand, Gaimo, comes from the craftsmanship of our handmade shoes, combining old traditions with new technologies. Made entirely in Spain, in the province of la Rioja, Gaimo shoes stand out for their strong personality and unmistakable style, and unmatched comfort. We use fair trade practices and only use top quality textiles and natural leathers. We combine tradition with a modern sensibility. Every collection is unique for the Indian market, giving expression to the feminine spirit’s natural and timeless aestheticism. They are now available on our website in Indian at www.anaboluda.com
(MM)Can you tell us what makes Spanish shoes unique in your own words, and why do you believe it is appealing to this part of the world?
(AB): I think good quality and design are timeless! It’s an art… And Spain has that and has proudly maintained this culture of handmade shoes, passing it down through generations for over 700 years now. I’m sure Indians appreciate the history behind the shoe as well. As I said, everyone enjoys quality and great shoe designs. I adapt my shoes to the sense and sensibility of this beautiful culture.
(MM)What other projects are you working on now, and how do you foresee your plans’ development and execution, especially during Covid-19?
(AB): I am in the process of improving my web page and trying to reach people in different parts of the country whom I previously couldn’t get and showcase the espadrilles.
I am considering exploring new markets beyond Indian shores, who would undoubtedly appreciate authentic Spanish artisan products.
(MM): And finally, when do you think you will be able to get back to Delhi? Do you foresee India as a land of opportunity for other expat entrepreneurs like yourself?
(AB): As soon as I can! Hopefully, very soon. Indeed, India can be and is very exciting. It’s a booming economy with lots of young people and vibrant culture. One word of advice: the beginning can be a bit hard at times adapting to the ways of life, but once you get past it, you are gonna love it!