By: Tebogo Mokwena
Letsia Thamane had his heart broken when he lost a job he started seven months earlier due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Faced with no other option, Thamane turned to entrepreneurship to put food on the table and look after his family. Thamane said that after conducting research in Reiger Park in Ekurhuleni to see what services the community needed, he decided to start a shoe cleaning service, Sneaker Kings Shoe Laundry, in 2020.
The business is performing so well now that it manufactures its own shoe paint, which Thamane is looking to commercialise. “I was retrenched… and I was devastated. It was one of those last in, first out situations because I had been working for the company for only seven months after job hunting for so long,” he told Vutivi News. “I tried to find another job, but those prospects looked very slim before I started the business.”
His business washes and dyes shoes, and also restores old shoes. It has customers from across Gauteng. “At first it was difficult to locate dye because I found that in most cases retailers only sold shoe polish,” Thamane said. “I started manufacturing my own dye, which is a complicated process as it requires a great deal of knowledge of chemicals and combining colours. “We started off with the black dye and soon enough we added a lot more colours to the catalogue,” he said.
On commercialising the dyes, Thamane said the plan was to have this process completed by the end of June when he planned on launching the business’s e-commerce platform. “I also want to employ a lot of people,” he said. “When I started I had three employees, but I had to let them go because the business suffered a lot during the second wave of Covid-19. “However, we are back on our feet and we are growing at a steady pace.”
Thamane said that he also wanted to manufacture and sell plain shoes, as well as customise shoes with different images. “We will also be working with other small businesses in the area to add shoe repairs to our catalogue of products, and we will also be working with other shoe laundries who are in need of the dye,” he said. “The plan eventually is to franchise the business in 10 years and have other people create jobs in their communities.”