New York individuals make clear Atom’s footwear
Atoms founder Sidra Qasim is the latest subject featured in Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York photo series.
Qasim, who founded the sneaker brand with her husband Waqas Ali, shared her experience in a small town in Pakistan. The eleven-part interview shows Sidra’s life in a conservative Pakistani household up to the founding of a shoe brand in New York City. The founders received such an overwhelming response from coverage that the brand decided to give Humans of New York readers $ 30 for their signature sneaker.
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“Thank you for taking the time to read my story in Humans of New York. Although it has been difficult to share so many intimate details of my personal life, I hope my story will inspire young women around the world, ”Qasim wrote on the brand’s website.
“It’s the same story that every Pakistani girl is taught. We grew up believing that our purpose in life was to find and keep a husband, ”Qasim told HONY.
The co-founder went on to explain that her family put constant pressure on her to find a husband after high school. However, Qasim had bigger dreams. She met her husband Waqas at her aunt’s house. He was one of her aunt’s students.
“We talked about life, society and human emotions. It was the only opportunity to share my ideas with someone. And Waqas took my opinion seriously, ”said the Atoms founder.
When Qasim enrolled in college, she was one of only 15 students. After graduation, her current husband asked her to move to the city of Lahore to continue studying and become his business partner.
The story goes on
“It finally felt like my talents were being recognized, and the next day I asked my parents for permission. But they refused, ”she said to HONY.
Eventually her parents gave her permission to move to town and she started working with Waqas.
The couple’s original company, Social Media Art, wanted to help brands build a social media presence online. After the business struggled for success, the two decided to jump into the shoe industry after meeting a group of local artisans who made leather shoes.
“We called our collection Hometown Shoes. And after we launched our website, the first order came in immediately, ”said Qasim.
After their start, Sidra and Waqas got married. Soon after, they applied in San Francisco for the Y-Combinator Accelerator program, which helps start-ups gain a foothold.
“The admissions process was more selective than at Harvard and they had helped start companies like AirBnB and Dropbox,” said the co-founder of the process.
The couple entered the Y-combinator program, but the experience didn’t go quite as planned for the original brand. “We were the only company in our group that didn’t raise any money. And to make matters worse, it had been a formal event. Many of our classmates were in disguise. But none of them were wearing the shoes we had sold them, ”she said of the demo day, which served as the final day of presentation for the program participants.
Through trial and error, the couple decided to create a line of casual shoes instead of focusing on formal footwear and landed on the idea of Atoms.
“We looked for the highest quality materials and put all our findings into a document called ‘Ideal, Everyday Shoe’. Then we all gave our notes to a talented designer. Together we built a prototype and called them “atoms” because we went to the atomic level in search of quality, ”said Qasim.
Atoms specializes in comfortable sneakers and offers half and full sizes as well as quarter sizes. The $ 129 antimicrobial insole shoes are available for both men and women.
You can also purchase face masks and socks on Atoms.com.
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