MUSE COVER STORY
On the first few glances, Suphakanya Tripwatana can be intimidating. With her severe, sharp fringe, flowy black hair, charcoal eyes and stylish attire she shines with confidence and has a boom box volume speaking voice that suggests she is not to be messed with.
‘‘I don’t haveawell-heeled family to backmeup financially. I was just so scared to do it"
But if you are lucky enough to casually converse with her, you'll find a warm cat lover and crazy party animal brimming with a quirky sense of humour and a positive outlook on life.
It's hard not to fall in love with Suphakanya and her shoe line, Croon. Just like their creator, Croon shoes have an amazing appearance and a whole lot of attitude. Not only are they comfortable, but they are now being seen on fashionistas and trendsetters everywhere. They are sold in Brown (London), Little Black Dress (Hong Kong) and Modern Naked (Spain) while there are talks of Croon expanding to other countries.
With high demand for the shoe line locally and internationally, Suphakanya is juggling her roles between handling the fast-growing Croon brand and being a full-time designer for Kloset.
"I'm finding it hard to manage all my work and all the parties," said Suphakanya, laughing. "Luckily, I have a very understanding boss who doesn't mind that we do our own thing as long as we finish what we're supposed to be doing. I don't find it confusing between designing shoes and clothes. They have quite different aesthetics. It's different ways of working, and I just have to be able to switch between the two ends."
Suphakanya began working with Kloset as an intern while she was studying graphic design at Silpakorn University. She joined the ultra-feminine fashion house full-time right after graduation.
It's been almost eight years, and she is still enjoying her job. As an ardent shoe lover, Suphakanya got the idea of starting her own brand five years ago, but she got cold feet before she launched it.
"I thought I was still too young to start my own business," she said. "Also, I don't have a well-heeled family to back me up financially. I was just so scared to do it. I just had ideas floating around my head."
It wasn't until earlier last year that she decided to drop her fears and worries, diving head-first into the shoe world. With support from her boyfriend, who is a business partner in Croon, the 31-year-old emptied her savings account and used up all of her courage to invest in her brand.
"I didn't think of a back-up plan. I just thought that if I didn't do it then, when would I be able to have something to call my own? I knew I had to do it. I told myself if it didn't work then it didn't work, and I could begin to build up my savings again."
The driving idea behind Croon came from Suphakanya's personal needs and annoyances.
"I love shoes, and I could never find something that would fit me nicely. Sometimes nice-looking shoes are just too dressy and not very comfortable. I wanted something that I could wear to a wide range of occasions and yet be fancy enough without having to always be high heels."
From the beginning Croon has been championed by social influencers and trend leaders who often featured the brand on social media, giving the newborn label the exposure it needed.
"I'm not against celebrity endorsement, it's just another way to market your products," said Suphakanya. "But you still need to make sure that your products are of a high standard.
"You have to make sure that you can sell because of the quality and the design not just because some famous people wear them, and now everybody wants them. There must be a balance also."
So far Croon's three models come in Oxford and flats style, but with good quality leather, eye-catching glitter, solid production and impeccable design. Croon shoes are doing what they set out to do, taking the wearers everywhere from office meetings to travelling in extreme weather.
"For us, quality comes first. I personally inspect every pair myself. If anything is not up to my standard, I will not sell them to anyone. Since it's just me and my boyfriend working on the line, we do everything ourselves. It can be hard work because we just want our shoes to answer to the needs of real girls who want something to wear for all occasions without having to worry if something will break.
"Having said that, I would still like to work faster, coming up with more designs. Actually, I have a lot of designs in my head already, but I still don't have enough time or the means to do them all, so I'm taking it slowly for the time being. Hopefully, we'll become more professional soon."
Suphakanya also reveals that the biggest problem in shoemaking is the reliability of suppliers. Local craftsmen are experts at producing flat shoes, but she says they sometimes find it difficult to develop the skills and products needed at the next level. Good quality soles are also hard to source. Suphakanya doesn't rely on just one factory for the different parts of her shoes, and she insists that she looks around for the best suppliers. High heels are in the pipeline, but she hasn't found the materials that live up to her standards yet.
"I don't really care how many shoes I can sell. I am happy to see that most of my buyers are repeat customers. I don't exactly know how to measure success, but I feel that I've succeeded since I've got all my investment returned. I guess I'm easily satisfied! I never expected Croon to do as well as it's doing now. I am not trying to expand the numbers of my clients. I'm trying my best to look after every customer who has trusted me."
About the author
Writer: Story by Onsiri Pravattiyagul and photos by Binn Buameanchol