Q & A with the Inspiring Female Founder Souraya from Esska
I am super happy Esska has joined our FRIENDS ROCK Partner Programme. I have always loved their shoes and and they look fab with with our Jumpsuits.
A local footwear brand based in West London, launched in 2006 when Souraya Karma became frustrated with the shoes on offer in the shops. They were either comfy and a bit ugly or good looking and uncomfortable.
Souraya’s dream was to change this so that stylish shoes could also be comfortable. Esska started small. They launched with a single sandal and set up in Souraya’s boyfriend’s (now husband) spare room. The spare room quickly became Souraya’s design studio, warehouse, office and everything else. The one style soon became a collection and they we were stocked in some great boutiques….. Esska’s journey had begun!
In 2017 they launched the website, allowing them to offer Esska to a much wider group of people. Lots of hard work and 7 office moves later, they have built a thriving business and are no longer based out of a spare room!
However, Souraya is keen to always stay true to our original idea of creating good looking, comfortable shoes that will stand the test of time!
Lets meet Souraya.......
Firstly, where does the name Esska come from?
It comes from the phonetic French pronunciation of my maiden name. Souraya Karami = S and K = Ess Ka. I am Lebanese and speaks fluent French!
How did you start Esska and why?
I simply started Esska because I wanted shoes for myself and my friends. Shoes that are comfortable, stylish and not overdesigned.
What do you wish you knew before starting your business
That it’s ok to fail. And get up again. That I will make mistakes, and will learn from them.
What’s the hardest lesson you have learnt?
To set the terms that suit you, clearly from the beginning. I have trusted people and they let me down. From cancelled orders, to unpaid bills…. Now, I only work on the terms that work for us.
How do you juggle the work/life balance?
Oh that is the biggest question… and most important one. I try my best. We all do, don’t we? I went through different phases in my family/business life. I started Esska 3 years before I had my first child, I struggled a l lot to start with. Then it got better in some ways when the kids started school, but then the challenges changed and I found it very difficult to manage. I scaled Esska down so I can give my family (and myself) time. And when I felt better and stronger, I went back with much more to give.
Now, I try my best to finish at 5 during the week so I can be with the kids after their school day. I also try not to work on weekends and take time for my family, my friends, myself, my dog….
To be able to give 100% at work, which is a huge part of my life, I need to be able to switch off… and be there for the other parts of me.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. London mainly… from the people I see, from…our environment, architecture, objects, cities, art, exhibitions, and much more. I am also a little bit crazy about colour. I love Metallics, brights, block colour, pastels, colour combinations, layering, etc, etc.
What's your hero style?
My favourite is Valerie. It’s the shoe I wear when I go out, it’s the shoe I love most. It’s simple, elegant, and makes me feel amazing. Mine is the gold. But I love all the colours
What are your top self care tips when you need some ‘me time’?
I sometimes need to take time off from everything and everyone. Sleep early. Be alone. Go on a walk
Do you have a secret style tip or fav brand (other than Esska!) or what’s your favourite style??
My style can change depending on my mood. In general I like trousers and jumpsuits… I love layering, and mixing styles and materials.
Have you had a life changing moment?
Yes. The biggest one is after my divorce, around 18 years ago. When I decided to leave everything behind (home, career, parents, friends, financial security), move to London and start all over again. From scratch.
What is the future for Esska?
I love what I do. I went through a lot of ups and downs with Esska, and in my personal journey. I am today where I want to be, with the people I want to be with, in the city I want to live in. For now, I am very content. The immediate future for Esska is to keep doing what I am doing. And do it even better if I can.
And finally, what 9 products are you currently rockin or couldnt live without..
I wear my Orange metallic bag from DiskoKids every single day.
Reading ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’ by Gabrielle Zevin
Watching ‘Hijack’ with Idris Elba (Apple TV)
I got a Freddies Flowers subscription for my birthday and did not know I loved flowers that much. I love taking my time creating the arrangement…
Necklace layering from Chambers & Beau… I live in my lightning bolt necklace
Skinceuticals serums for my face. I use the H.A. Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier serum and love it.
I love Running, While listening to the new ‘The remixes’ album from London Grammar
I live in my VALERIE's and the NOLA Trainers from Esska
My favourite Candle is Baies from Dipteque