PICS: KZN woman's LACED-up success story

By Kerushun Pillay Time of article published May 4, 2017

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Durban - Store bought birthday presents just won’t do for Dhiantha Achary.

Back in 2014, as her friends celebrated their 21st birthdays, she elected to take a more personalised route for gifts.

So she grabbed a pair of Tomy takkies and some art supplies and got to work, painting and drawing designs on the white shoes.

Achary, who is completing her masters degree in architecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, then posted photographs of the takkies onto her Instagram account and people began to take notice.

“A work friend saw them in 2015 and ordered a couple of pairs for herself.” 

Dhiantha Achary, 23, sells custom-designed takkies through her business, LACED.

By June that year, the 23-year-old began receiving numerous orders and Achary began to see the potential of the concept.

Now what started as simple creative gifts have bloomed into a business for Achary, who designs as many as three pairs a week.

LACED has become a hit with South Africans and has even attracted attention from Germany, Canada, the US and Australia.

“The shoes are available exclusively on an order basis. My shoes are ordered specifically by clients and they have the option of either ordering from pre-existing designs or getting a custom-made pair.


“There are some occasions, mostly at markets, where I customise my own designs or what I think will sell.”

She said the designs are inspired by clients.

“Every single pair has been designed according to (their) personalities and requests. There is no real theme. Each pair of shoes is unique for each customer.”

Achary works from home, in Westville, where she takes anywhere between nine and 18 hours to meticulously design the shoes by hand with fabric markers and fabric paint.

“All the shoes are completely colour-fast, so they are washable and durable. After I’ve painted the shoes, I use a spray-on fixative and waterproofing spray to make sure the design stays on longer.”

She said she liaises closely with clients during the process.


“I make sure my clients participate in the process, so they know what is happening at every stage.”

Achary said balancing LACED with her studies has proved tough.

“I take orders for two pairs a week, although some weeks I can only do one pair and other weeks I can do three. It just depends on how my (university) workload is and where I need to dedicate my time.”

She hopes LACED will become a name within the South African creative industry and will inspire people to express themselves via wearable art.

“I’d love to get more artists involved and use LACED as a launch pad for other artists,” she said.

Anyone interested can e-mail her at [email protected], or see LACED on Facebook, or follow @laceddsgn on Instagram.

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