Michael Paratore: A Modern Day Adventurer

Photo by Hunter Thiers

Photo by Hunter Thiers

While working the annual New York Remodelista Market, hosted by Canvas Home and Remodelista, I got the pleasure of meeting lawyer turned shoe peddler, Michael Paratore.  Michael Paratore is the founder and owner of Mohinders, a shoe company specializing in hand-made, artisanal shoes from India.  After hearing his inspiring story, I knew he would be the perfect candidate for an Undeniable Life interview.  Below Michael shares the story of Mohinders and business advice for anyone looking to start or manage a company.

HUNTER: Where did you get the idea for Mohinders?

MICHAEL: It started on the streets of Mumbai, India where I stumbled upon a shoe peddler selling handmade leather shoes. I purchased a pair that caught my eye and then started wearing them (and getting compliments on them) nearly every day when I was back home in the Bay Area. One day, at my desk at the law firm, the thought that I could start a company selling this shoe crept into my mind. It didn’t take long for me to become obsessed with this idea. I kept moving forward with this idea, which led me to quit my job as a corporate lawyer, make a sourcing trip back to India where I found an ethical production partner, and, eventually, start Mohinders.

H: What is the best thing about Mohinders shoes?

M: There is an unbelievable amount of handwork involved in the making of a pair of Mohinders. All of our shoes are handmade by 2nd and 3rd generation shoemaking artisans, with most of the production taking place in these artisans homes. Even the majority of the tools used to create these shoes are handmade! Our shoes are made with veg-tanned water-buffalo leather, which is hand-tanned in the artisan’s front-yard-turned-micro-tanneries. One of the main tanning ingredients in this veg-tanning process is the myrobalan nut, which is also used in ayurvedic medicine.

H: What does the name Mohinders mean?

M: Embarrassingly I first heard the name Mohinder on the TV show Heroes…Dr. Mohinder Suresh. It was one of those words/names that just got stuck in my head. So when I decided to quit my job as a lawyer and start a company based on an Indian shoe, naming this venture was easy…Mohinders.

H: What advice would you give anyone who wants to start their own business?

M: You can be an entrepreneur without starting a tech company and without aiming for a $100M+ acquisition. Maybe this one is already obvious to everyone, but it wasn’t to me. I was working as lawyer in the Silicon Valley and representing companies that were creating software products and shooting for the moon. They were raising millions of dollars from venture capitalists that believed these companies would eventually be worth hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) in the near future. So, naturally I thought that if I wanted to be an entrepreneur I had to create the next instagram, or snapchat…even though I know nothing about programming and it’s not something that excites me at all. After weeks of mulling over the idea of starting Mohinders, I had a realization: I could be entrepreneurial and start a company that sounded fun, even though it wasn’t a tech company or wouldn’t likely produce a $100m exit. I could start a shoe company! Why not?

H: What is the best thing about running Mohinders?

M: Before I had a kid, definitely traveling. It was pretty nice to have an excuse to hang out in India for a few weeks at a time. But now, post kid, the flexibility of being the boss is definitely nice. I can carve out a lot of time to spend with my daughter, Winnie.

Finally, a few fun facts…

  1. Favorite Song: David Guetta “Bang My Head Robin Schulz Remix”

  2. Wanderlust: Tokyo - I need to see for myself what's going on there

  3. Outfit of Choice (with Mohinders of course!): Jeans by Taylor Stitch (CA based company), Button Down Shirt by Apolis (another company that sources ethically). That's pretty much my uniform every day.

To learn more about Mohinders, and to purchase a pair of your own, go to www.mohinders.com!