From having no casual shoes of his own to owning a successful sneaker empire and providing shoes to children in need – Drip Footwear’s founder and director Lekau Sehoana’s life story is nothing short of inspirational

The 32-year-old, who hails from Ivory Park, east of Johannesburg, recently had a chat with the Citizen about his inspiring success story, his entrepreneurial journey and what’s next for the company that is flooding South Africa’s streets with the most colourful sneakers in existence.

Born in a rural township just outside Polokwane in Limpopo, Sehoana and his mother moved to Johannesburg when he was just two years old, shortly after his parents’ divorce.

They moved from place to place before settling in Ivory Park, Tembisa in 1994.

According to Sehoana, this period is when his grandmother instilled the independent spirit he is so proud of today.

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During the and his mother’s frequent visits to Limpopo, Sehoana said his grandmother taught all her grandchildren how to sew in order to extend the lifespan of items they own or to create new items from scratch.

 

She also reminded all her grandchildren that they all needed to be able to know how to clean, cook and do laundry, irrespective of gender.

“That is where I actually started to know how to sew clothes but in 2003 while I was in grade 8, I was now in a big school and there was too much pressure from other kids to look good and that is where I realised I was poor, where I realised I was different from the other kids,” said Sehoana.

While civvies day inspired excitement in his classmates, Sehoana said that it sent him into a state of depression because he knew that his clothes an casual shoes were not as stylish as his friends.

Instead of wallowing in a state of self-pity and lamenting the fact that he could not afford brand shoes, Sehoana got the bright idea to create his own

He used an old, worn down sneaker and a pair of jeans to create his own design.

“It became a hit. People loved it. I was different. I was the talk of the whole school. Then I was like ‘oh! Okay, there’s something here’. That is when I started sewing denims for other people.”

He didn’t immediately go into the business of shoe-making due to how specialist it was and required special tools that he did not yet have access to so he went into making clothes instead.

“Honestly speaking, between 2008 and 2018, it has been another form of me getting education, living life because I made so many businesses and I have registered so many companies and I have done so many things but failed. But everything that I have done in that period actually led to me to where I am today.”

Sehoana has tried establishing and running cleaning companies and a recycling business among others but says that those were started and run out of desperation to be able to afford a basic living.

 

 

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Officially Open, Newtown Junction.

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He later realised, however, that fashion had his heart so he returned to the industry determined to set up a business, formalise it and make a success out of it

“So that was my angle with it. Have a professional business that will empower other people. Go commercial. Bring in accounts, pay tax, establish a corporate brand…”

And so Drip Footwear was born and they have recently been trending like crazy on social media

Sehoana owes this mass appeal to his personality in part and to the fact that people just seem to love his product. A product that he, as a self-proclaimed sneaker-head said he was not fond of at first.

He thought people would hate the design in favour of a high-top style similar to all the other brands already on the market.

“Social media is very brutal, social media is very honest. If you’re coming with nonsense, they’re going to tell you ‘no, this is bad.’ But, to my surprise, they LOVED them.”

 

 

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Drip x @clementmaosa because Dreamers know when to connect.

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“I think my personality as well comes into play because I believe in not throwing your success in people’s faces. Not posting, not bragging, not doing any of those things. Just straight up being an entrepreneur, pushing the product and being one with the people.”

According to the entrepreneur, that enables customers to view the product and brand as theirs. Therefore, viewing it as something they can get behind and support.

This strategy seems to have worked as the business will be opening its second stand-alone store in Pretoria this coming weekend.

In addition to its standard supporter base of young, trendy social media users, Sehoana says the sneaker, which retails for R900, is popular among doctors and nurses

This is because they find the shoe, which Sehoana designed with walking in mind, to be very comfortable and breathable – perfect for long hours spent on their feet at work.

“South Africa is very hot, so the sneakers are very light. I designed them for walking. A lot of people don’t have cars in SA and they rely on shoes to carry them from point A to point B.”

 

 

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Summer 2020.

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Sehoana said the dramatic sole of the shoe is due to the fact that he wanted something “out of this world,” which he coupled with the brightest colour offering.

Sehoana concluded our chat by sharing his future plans, which include flooding the market with more colours, expanding to the rest of the continent and venturing into catering to athletes, runners and hiking aficionados and perhaps releasing a premium, high-fashion Drip Footwear design.