THEO BALOYI – BATHU SNEAKERS

How did you start your journey as an entrepreneur?

My journey as an entrepreneur started when I was in my second year of university. I wanted to gain a sense of financial freedom and responsibility for raising my own allowance so I started selling oil based perfumes door to door in Alexandra Township. I would say that’s where the entrepreneurial bug bit me. I love selling, it comes naturally. This went on for a few years until i started working on my current venture a little over two years ago. That is when Bathu was born. It has been a journey filled with lessons since.

Why did you choose sneakers?

I did a lot of analysis in the industry and wanted to create footwear that will channel us to an international market or give us an opportunity to compete globally. An authentic product with a strong African identity. The apparent cult growth of sneaker heads worldwide has given us reason to make our first footwear project a sneaker range. For us it is important that we tell a proudly south african story and inspire our people as much as possible. We must create business models which resonate with our culture and share an aesthetic that defines our new generation.

How are the sneakers made and what led you to a mesh type of footwear?

The mesh design was inspired by the need to give our brand a unique identity, which will hopefully grant us appeal to international markets. The creative process was a little arduous and sometimes in limbo. It was important for us to find an unmistakably authentic design before we could mass manufacture our first product, considering the potential loss factor of a launch product.

How do you manage to keep up sales?

We maintain our demand and relevance through collaborations with online stores and independent sales representatives.

What business motto do you live by?

Build your business profile first, before diversification. Having a reputable profile will certainly push you to unlock diversified models for your business.

What challenges have you encountered?

I went through a series of challenges on the journey. It took me 18 months before I could finally launch our mesh edition. One of the more unpleasant challenges was meeting all factory requirements prior to shoe production and also acquiring funding. No one funded me on this project, so I had to use my savings to start the business.

What is next for Bathu brand?

The next step is to get a national distribution deal to selected retailers. Access is crucial to our growth. The plan is to take the brand international in the next 5 years.


KASIBIZ MAHALA STAFF WRITER

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