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The Cool Shoes That Fired Up A Dream

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Amid the sprawling shacks in the township of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, a few kilometers from Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton, is Andrew Lale, a young entrepreneur who grew up without sneakers and now makes money with them.

When I meet Lale in downtown Johannesburg, the first words out of his mouth are a sign of prosperous times. He apologizes for having to do the interview alone, his entrepreneurial partner Theo Baloyi is in Dubai on business.

“We are trying to expand Bathu to the Middle East. It is always spring or summer there, it’s hot, the weather favours us a lot. So he is trying to get our sneakers that side,” says Lale, co-founder of Bathu, the company that makes shoes out of mesh, which is cool in more ways than one.

Bathu Andrew Lale

A Pair of Bathu shoes. (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

“We call it the only breathing sneaker. When you wear it, it’s the coolest sneaker and it feels comfortable. We also realized that a lot of people have sweaty feet, so this sneaker could help a lot,” says Lale.

‘If Hunger Can’t Inspire You, Nothing Can’

Lale and Baloyi met as children playing soccer, without shoes, on the streets of Alexandra. Their friendship was bonded by a dream of owning, and making, their own sneakers. Years later, they have sold all the 600 pairs of sneakers they made, and have just started production of 1,000 more.

At the age of 15, as they were pursuing their dream, Lale sought advice from his neighbor who sold pocket squares and cufflinks.

“I said to my friend, ‘because we want to go into business, and we don’t know the journey and the story behind entrepreneurship, this is the right guy to talk to’. He gave us the pocket squares and cufflinks to sell and make a profit for ourselves,” says Lale.

The boys weren’t successful but they were given another chance when the neighbor ventured into cosmetics. They sold everywhere they could during school holidays, and this time they did well. That’s when they realized they had the knack for entrepreneurship.

They saved every cent they earned and reminded each other of their dream.

Andrew Lale shows off his Bathu shoes. (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

Lale went on and studied to become a paralegal while Baloyi studied a BCom in accounting. After Baloyi graduated, he went to Dubai for the first time and met a French entrepreneur. He then remembered the shoemaking dream he shared with Lale.

On his return to South Africa, in 2015, the two researched the shoe industry and realized there was no African shoe brand with an African story. Everyone in their neighborhood had foreign brands on their feet.

The Link Between Federer And Food

Later that year, Lale and Baloyi registered and copyrighted Bathu. They worked on the concept for 18 months. They wanted to use a word that South Africans can affiliate with, and found Bathu (a colloquial term for shoes).

“We analyzed trends, hip hop was a genre big in South Africa and we realized that most young cats, including me, spend too much money on sneakers and we consume too many foreign brands, more than our own [brands],” says Lale.

The pair had their idea, now they needed money; the problem was nobody was prepared to back them financially. Baloyi was putting away some of his salary while Lale was selling make-up and weaves in the streets. “As Theo was working, I was doing my thing on the side; selling women’s hair like Peruvian and Brazilian weaves. Selling them all over the Joburg CBD, Alexandra, Pretoria, Thembisa, I was just all over Joburg including the townships,” says Lale.

After Lale graduated, he didn’t want to work for anyone, he says.

“They say money is a drug, you make it and you get addicted. I used to push all over the streets.”

After a tough 18 months, Bathu was launched, on September 19, 2016. It was so popular their website crashed due to the high demand. Lale says it’s because people felt an affiliation with the name and loved the story behind the shoes.

They initially produced 100 sneakers and went around townships selling them door-to-door. They were sold out within a month.

With the profits that were made from the first 100 sneakers, the money was reinvested to produce more pairs.

Other aspiring entrepreneurs wish they were walking in Lale’s shoes.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

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