Just four years after struggling to find a job in IT, Sydney mum-of-two Caroline Africh is today running a business on track to turn over $1 million in sales this financial year.
Now that number could easily double, or more, thanks to Caroline winning the honour of having her product, Attipas shoes, packed into the swanky gift bags at this year’s Academy Awards.
Oscar-nominated actors and directors have their pick of a slew of freebies worth more than $300,000 combined, with last year’s bags featuring gifts ranging from luxury toilet paper to personalised M&Ms, free holidays and a lifetime supply of skin creams.
Caroline tells News Ltd that her ultimate goal would be to have her product worn by Kourtney Kardashian’s son, Reign.
“We think someone like her would appreciate the product as they’re not just cute but also healthy,” she says. “They’re ergonomic, they help kids’ feet — and we’ve got an organic range.”
Caroline discovered Attipas shoes by chance while on holiday in Japan, and realised there might be an opportunity in Australia for the podiatrist-approved, sock-shoe hybrid for babies and toddlers that “never falls off”.
“I bought a pair for my son and brought back to Australia,” she says. “They were just such a great product that everyone was asking about them, and I thought: ‘There must be a business in this’.”
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After approaching the Korean makers with a project plan, the deal was truck for her to become the exclusive distributor in Australia.
She started with an initial $20,000 worth of stock and packed orders in the attic, with the help of her husband. Slowly but surely, Attipas started to get traction, reports News Ltd.
Caroline now fulfills orders for about 35,000 pairs a year, with 80 per cent sold by home-based consultants across Australia.
The focus on selling through consultants came after a struggle to get the product stocked by major retailers.
“We found that people who had never used them were like ‘hmm, kind of interesting’, but not convinced. But the ones who had used them would rave on about them.”
Both Roxy Jacenko and Sally Obermeder’s children have been spotted wearing Attipas shoes.