Interview with Andrea Součková, owner and founder of Naboso.cz
You’re the owner and founder of several shops called “naBOSo” – how did this idea cross your mind? How did you come to launch the project
It grew out of personal experience. I was on an internship program in Canada and I started jogging quite a lot. Besides which, I was on my feet in the laboratory 8 hours a day. I was 25 at the time, but I was getting pains in my knees and legs, so I tried to discover why. Later, I found some barefoot shoes, put them on – and have never taken them off. Step by step, I learned to consciously walk in them, and the pain just disappeared. I started to buy more and more footwear from the one brand that was available at that time. Burning a hole in my student grant :-). This carried on until I’d completely changed my shoe rack. Then, I went abroad again – as Mr. Dušek [Czech actor and alternative lifestyle guru: translator’s note] says: “My ego was on holiday”. I spent most of the day barefoot in the magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, when the idea to start a multi-brand shop and import new brands to Prague popped into my mind.
The very first shop was set up in Dejvice, the other two are in Beroun and Zlín – what’s the next step? Are you considering expanding abroad? Is there a big difference between customer interest in Prague versus the rest of the country ?
Yes, I have a soft spot for the Dejvice neighbourhood. I chose this part of Prague because it was near my university :-). Besides, people living in Prague 6 are deeply interested in healthy lifestyles. In Beroun, we have a franchise business – it’s not ours, but operated by Šárka Maršnerová on our behalf. Well, Zlín is my native city. Moreover, where else should healthy and quality shoes be sold than in Zlín [home of the Bata shoe company – translator’s note]? Of course, Prague is the largest city in the Czech Republic and interest is, of course, stronger than in the rest of the country.
How do you think the barefoot market will develop? What, in your opinion, has changed the most? What’s still lagging behind? In your view, what’s currently working well, and what still needs a little more time? How do you see the future of barefoot footwear and the barefoot community in 5–10 years from now?
At the beginning, there were only a few shoes and brands. Today, new brands are appearing all the time. In the past, there was nothing to sell and people were easily satisfied. Now, customers like to choose, they can be more demanding. The quality has also improved a lot. Formerly, we would get a lot of complaints. Many producers have left China, and not only because of ethical reasons. Today, footwear is produced in Vietnam or, for example, in Portugal. Anybody who tries barefoot once will wear it forever. They’ll never return to discomfort, and I do believe that the barefoot community will keep growing, and that we’re raising a new healthy generation.
How did you survive the quarantine period – personally and as a company? What do you think about the future in this respect ?
It was a difficult time. We’d like to thank all our customers who supported us and ordered shoes online. I was forced to rethink things and pay more attention to the e-shop, which I now believe has a much bigger future, because such an event might happen again.
Ahinsa is one of the brands you’ve been selling from the very beginning – thank you very much :) How do you see us today, can you share your thoughts? What, in your opinion, do your customers think about us? What are our advantages and what are we missing? Where is our future? And what should we focus on ?
Ahinsa has come a long way. Especially in the range of models, materials, and quality. The new sole is just great – soft, flexible. I personally like wearing Bindus, as they’re very comfortable. I like having plenty of space in the front part of the shoe, for instance also with the ‘correct toe’ (toe spacers from the USA) if you suffer from hallux valgus (bunions). Customers perceive Ahinsa as a more nature-friendly brand. After all, you don’t use leather, but only vegan materials, which can be a plus for some, though others might miss the leather. But I like that you’re staying true to your business vision. Certainly, customers see you as a responsible brand, promoting sustainability. I can see your future going down that path. What about Ahinsa kids’ footwear?
What do you like most about being barefoot ?
Freedom, comfort, sensitivity, strengthening all the muscles and tendons in the foot.
What were your first barefoot shoes ?
Running shoes. But then I started to wear them as city walking shoes and gradually bought myself a new barefoot collection.
You were a student when you established and launched naBOSo – and now you’re a new mom, and on top of all that you love traveling and sports – do you have any manual how to cope with all these things?
No, I don’t :-) But I like to reach my full potential and set out my priorities. Of course, my daughter is now my priority, she’s always my number one. We share many activities to help her develop, such as swimming, baby yoga, music school, etc. When she falls asleep, I immediately go to my computer and work. I use every single peaceful minute :-). I love sports, I have a jogging stroller and we go running together. Indeed, I try to use running as a way to get about, as it saves time; when I need to organize something, I usually run there :-). I try to be as effective as possible – I like it. When I think about my day in the evening and can tick off a long list of jobs completed, then I’m satisfied.
How do your family and friends see your activities? Who is the most inspiring person in your life (and why)?
Everybody helps and supports us. In my work, certainly my mom and granddad. Also inspirational to me is everybody who works hard to improve themselves and does the right thing.
Have you ever thought of running a retail network? What did you dream of doing when you were a kid?
I wanted to become a vet, a doctor. I was interested in the natural sciences, which I graduated in. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that we can influence many things just by ourselves, independently, on the psychosomatic level. Of course, everybody is different. I personally like to take care of my “outer” side – i.e., the body, to feel good and be healthy.
You’ve travelled much of the globe; which part of the world did you like the most? Where is your true home? Where are you off to next? What’s the biggest temptation you run into when traveling ?
I’ve genuinely loved every place. Every country is exceptional one way or another, but to mention only one, then Israel. I’ve been there about three times. It’s not a coincidence that all the major religions are connected with this specific country. I myself felt this spirit there, too. I was fascinated with the historic sights, its three seas, diving, the desert… Unfortunately, traveling is now very restricted, so we’ll see where we’ll be able to travel and when. I would like to go skiing in France, surf and dive in Bali, and then go on hiking trails in Canada. When I travel I like freedom, learning things, and having experiences. I have a motto in English: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.
What always makes you happy? On the other hand, what gets on your nerves ?
This is very simple: I like good food, drink, music, friends, and sport. I don’t like mess and disorder.
What’s it like to be a mom? What’s changed your life the most ?
It was the best thing to have ever happened to me, I really enjoy it. I see only positive changes. Every day is more beautiful than the one before.
If you could have one wish come true, what would it be (besides having lots of wishes :) )?
Subham astum sarvadžagatam. (May all living beings be happy.)
What, in your view, is the most important thing in life?
Thank You very much for an amazing interview :) !!