Step Into The Shoes of Nirali Ruparel

By Sonia Motwani in Starting Up 03/10/2016

As soon as I was out of school I was expected to take care of my own expenses and encouraged to earn more, to be ambitious, to save and to fulfill my needs or luxuries.


Nirali Ruparel was raised as an independent woman. A media graduate, Nirali worked with Times group for 4 years before she started Achilles’ Heel, an aspirational luxury brand for custom crafted men’s footwear. “I was working alongside a number of luxury and lifestyle brands, and I applied everything I learnt at college to see how they were adapting to the changing retail landscape and consumer preferences,” says the founder. She realised a huge void in the market for Men’s Footwear and decided to fill the space. “I knew that this was an opportunity for me to take a leap that I always wanted to,” she says happily.


Achilles’ Heel is an e-comm platform company selling luxury men shoes that allow users to design them as well. It endorses style that strikes a fine balance between the classic and the modern, the discreet and the bold. Nirali took the hard step of quitting a well-paying job to do something of her own. “My life has always been about learning and using that practical experience to move ahead. While I was still in my junior college, I had begun working. I did fitness training courses and worked at a gym, taught spinning and aerobics for 7 yrs alongside college and then my internship in advertising and media companies,” says the womanpreneur.


My mother has always inspired me to be an independent woman.


Nirali believes that August 2012 was the perfect time to for her to startup, because this space was unexplored. She planned strategically to penetrate the market with positioning, unique designs and offerings to build a brand that has an international appeal and can help make a place for Indian brand in the Global luxury marketplace. With a prior experience of working with luxury brands, Ruparel had an understanding of the business and she certified in footwear designing from FDDI, India (Footwear Design and Development School). “I worked at local workshops and at a factory in Naples to master the art myself,” she says proudly.


My upbringing was such that societal pressure never existed and my family stood firm to support my decisions..which is frankly all that matters.


After building a brand identity, Ruparel faced monetary challenges in her work. She bootstrapped to raise 3 lakhs from 2 of her ‘Godfathers’ before she decided to launch her own label, who have continuously encouraged and put faith in her abilities. “It was tough as I constantly needed funds to keep up to the luxury brand tag and positioning but I managed with my PR skills and by giving the right pegs for publicity,” adds Nirali.


Working beyond the typical 9-5 has been a regular thing for Ruparel. “I enjoy working late nights where most of my creative & strategy work begins and in fact I reply to all my emails that do not need immediate responses, at this time,” she says. We asked her what keeps her motivated to do better everyday, and she said, “I increasingly feel the need to prove to the world that a luxury designer footwear label can in fact originate in India and make a mark globally.”


Newest addition to my list of motivating factors is proving to those species of investors (especially narrow-minded ones) out there that a woman entrepreneur is not just at par but in fact a better and a safer bet than those male counterparts.


The founder believes that family’s support is absolutely essential while starting up! “My father always taught me to live life free spirited with a sense of self-worth, respect and dignity. He has always considered me and my brother as equals all our lives,” she says. 2 years ago when Nirali got married, she and her husband faced the typical issues that arise in living with a joint family in an Indian household. “But my husband is well travelled and is a person of liberal views who understands where I come from. He took a stand for me when I needed it the most and cleared my career path; one that is free of any ‘house wife’ kind of work so I could focus on growing my business,” she adds happily.


Till date, not only does he equally help me in business but also at home and I do the same,


“The world around us has changed. Women are at par with men in all walks of life and also in sharing parenthood. It is not just a man who has the right to be ambitious. So the ones who haven’t evolved with their thinking, wake up,” says Nirali.


Official Website :

Follow Achilles Heel on Facebook, and Instagram for latest updates.

You can also follow Nirali on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Sonia Motwani

A full time business analyst and a passionate writer, she is hopelessly attracted to the passionate struggle story that every women entrepreneur has lived today! We possibly couldn’t have had someone better than her to write about women achieving new heights in the startup sector!


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