For most people, there’s not much to say about dirty shoes – they don’t look good, they probably smell and they don’t exactly exude confidence.
But for two Clark University students, dirty shoes were the focal point of a classroom business project that has turned less than $30 of startup funds into $1,500 in sales in just four months time.
Both collectors that have always cleaned their own shoes, Trevor Tarnowski and Hector Miron founded Shunu (shoe-new), a comprehensive shoe-cleaning service on campus that can clean any type of shoe from sneakers to heels.
“It’s a completely new service,” Tarnowski told The Buzz. “Of course you go to dry cleaners or do your laundry, but you overlook your shoes, the thing you wear everyday.”
Using a number of different cleaning solutions they purchased at Walmart, Tarnowski and Miron developed their own cleaning solution that could clean any material.
Each individual cleaning job is priced by how dirty the shoe is and the shoe’s material, which have different degrees of difficulty.
For example, Tarnowski said a material like suede is much more difficult to clean than leather. The standard job costs about $15, although some have gotten as high as $30, he said.
In a short amount of time, the company has brand loyalty, with repeat customers, some of which have trusted the duo with heels valued at over $1,000.
In addition to just cleaning, Tarnowski said Shunu can do repairs such as fixing a sole that came off and customization such as recoloring a shoe or adding a design. The company guarantees their services in one to two business days.
Although the class that the two came up with the idea for is over, Tarnowski and Miron plan to continue to grow Shunu. At first they were only targeting customers on campus; now they want to expand into Worcester.
Long term, Tarnowski and Miron plan to further legitimize the business by investing in a kiosk, company van or even a retail location. The company has been entered into the Ureka Big Idea Challenge at Clark University, where they hope to secure funding for scaling the business.