Sara Gulyas was just about to graduate from Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, one of central Europe’s best design schools, last year when she started working on a new shoe concept.
“I started to work on it in the middle of the summer, after we went to San Francisco for vacation, and people were just randomly stopping me on the street asking ‘What are you wearing? What is that?’ some of them even asked to try them on,” said Gulyas.
That design, which was her final project for University, has transformed into Pikkpack, an entirely leather shoe, cut in one piece, made to be bought unfinished and put together with a single shoelace. Gulyas’ shoes are inspired by a traditional Hungarian shoe called a bocskor, which, like Pikkpack, is constructed from a single cut piece of leather.
“When you search for DIY shoes, you don’t get things like Pikkpack,” said Gulyas. “You get a lot of things like painting your own shoes… or adding accessories to the shoes and things like that.”
Unlike many other DIY shoes, Pikkpack requires the customer to be hands on with the completion of the project, while still maintaining the same consistent quality. However, pre-made Pikkpack shoes are available for those of us who are a little bit lazier.
“You get the feeling of DIY and you get the joy of doing it yourself, but you get the same premium quality as you get from other brands,” said Andras Balogh, Pikkpack’s business development specialist.
After receiving so much encouragement from strangers and friends in San Francisco, Gulyas, with the help of her boyfriend Balogh, operations manager Callie Wheeler, and marketing specialist Johanna Halasz, decided to raise funds for Pikkpack with Kickstarter.
“We have a friend, Callie, who lives in San Francisco, and she was the first one who told me, ‘Why don’t you make a Kickstarter?’” said Gulyas.
While the Kickstarter, which started in early May, has only four days to go and is close to being funded, Gulyas admitted it was very difficult to figure out where to start.
“Because we’ve never made something like [the Kickstarter] before it was pretty hard to figure out what to do to make it really cool,” said Gulyas.
Balogh agreed, “The first and biggest challenge was deciding to do something,” said Balogh. “Just to being able to start it.”
Moreover, Gulyas and Balogh do not have no business degrees, or experience nor any experience prior to starting Pikkpack.
“I have had to do a lot of PR stuff and marketing without any knowledge,” said Gulyas. “I just use Google.”
Once the project was under way, one of the biggest issues included filming the video; the video is one of the most important ways a Kickstarter can draw attention and backers. Nobody on the Pikkpack team had the required video experience; not to mention, most of the core team is spread between Hungary, Ireland, and the United States. So they relied on friends and neighbors for help.
Gulyas is also the only person who works for Pikkpack full time, which usually means she’s balancing most of the work during her 14-15 hour days.
“I’m the only person who gets up, opens the computer, and immediately starts sending emails,” said Gulyas. “I also do the marketing, like tweeting, reading, and posting.”
Despite the many challenges, in the end, Gulyas and the Pikkpack team are just proud that they’ve been able to get this far.
“I designed a concept shoe, but I didn’t leave it in a concept state,” said Gulyas. “I made them and they’re wearable, functional shoes.”
Right now, those who back the Kickstarter can choose between black or brown leather shoes, with green, pink, blue, yellow, or grey laces. Gulyas plans to include even more leather and laces colors in the future, as well as different designs.