One young entrepreneur who will be watching the Royal Wedding with baited breath is Aruna Seth. The 29-year old from Surrey is in the running as Kate Middleton’s shoe supplier for the big day. If Kate plumps for one of her creations then the commercial impact for her Aruna Seth shoe brand will be incalculable.
Seth won’t find out until the big day. William Hill currently has her at 3 to 1 to be the bride’s choice, a nose ahead of Jimmy Choo and Rupert Sanderson.
Seth founded her eponymous Aruna Seth brand in 2008 and is on the brink of turning it into a globally recognised fashion name. Her most expensive set of heels clocks in at £2,300 – cheap at the price bearing in mind the 3,000 Swarovski crystals encrusted on the pair.
Seth tells Real Business that she can’t divulge too much about the Wedding or the ongoing negotiation process (most of her answers on the subject are answered with a diplomatic: “I can’t say anything”) but she’s obviously aware of the potential jackpot at stake.
“It would be a incredible for Kate to wear a pair ofour shoes. We are the right sort of brand for her – a luxury British designer.It would be such an honour to have our brand associated with the biggestwedding of the decade.”
In 1981 niche cobbler Clive Shilton won the contract to makethe shoes for Lady Diana Spencer’s marriage to Prince Charles. The fame proved almost overwhelming: by the end of the decade Shilton had tired of the adulation and packed in shoemaking for landscape gardening. And that was in the pre-Hello, pre-satellite TV era.
Aruna Seth’s shoes have a Disney quality which ought to make them ideal for the royal shindig. “All our shoes have the wow factor,” says Seth. “They are also comfortable, which isimportant.” For Miss Middleton, who will have to totter down the aislewith a billion eyes gazing at her, a bit of stability and comfort may well come in handy.
Seth is also the same age as Kate Middleton, which may influence the final decision.
If Seth does get the nod it will be a milestone in what is already a stunning success story. Seth started out in life as a merchant banker with Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, before bailing out to start her own firm.
“The shoes business is in my blood,” she says cheerfully.This is no exaggeration: her father is Geoff Seth, the founder of Ascot footwear which enjoyed booming business in the Eighties. Growing up she spent her summers working at the Ascot HQ inHackbridge, Surrey.
Her business model is design-based rather than manufacturing: Seth and her team design the shoes, which are then hand-made by aspecialist outsourcer in Northern Italy.
The key, as with all fashion brands, is publicity.
“We’ve had celebrities such as Goldie Hawn, Pixie Lott, Paris Hilton and Katherine Jenkins wearing our shoes to red-carpet events,” says Seth. The impact of a photo in Hello or Vogue can make ayoung brand like these.
Even if Seth does miss out on being the Official Shoe Supplier to the Princess, Seth has a strong remedy. She’s on course to open her first boutique in Sloane Street later in the year, and is working on adding to her international stockists – currently she ships to the US, Dubai, Russia, Austria, Holland and Italy.
“We want to expand worldwide,” she says. “We are already in the most prestigious bridal stores in the US, such as Kleinfeld in New York and Priscilla of Boston.”
If Kate walks down the aisle on Friday wearing a pair of Aruna Seth shoes you can bet this fledging entrepreneur won’t have to struggle to get her products stocked. Buyers will be queuing up.
Quite simply, Aruna Seth is on the brink of the publicity coup which makes careers.