From the bustling township of Alexandra a bright student is pushing the hustle through an innovative sneaker cleaning business that’s the talk of the kasi.
Takalani Matamela did some thinking outside of the box and came up with the idea for his business instead of taking the predictable route of reselling sneakers like the rest of his peers.
The sneaker industry has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to a rise in streetwear culture and an exponential growth in the influence of pop culture on mainstream society.
More and more people are trading their heels and loafers for a pair of trendy sneakers. Out of all this Matamela noticed a gap in the growing sneaker and streetwear industry.
While everyone was clamouring to be the top sneaker seller, he realised there weren’t many people who loved to keep them clean. That gave birth to his business.
“I noticed there was an old man in my community who would polish and shine people’s shoes for a bit of money and I really admired how people ended up trusting him and building a good relationship with him. I really want to connect to people my age the same way he did,” Matamela said.
It took a bit of brainstorming for Takalani to figure out his business, namely where he would get the initial cleaning supplies for his first batch of sneakers.
He had some money saved up and decided to use that as his seed money to start his business off.
He has made it a point to only accept payment once a customer was happy with the result of his work.
Takalani uses a combination of social media marketing and word of mouth to advertise his sneaker services. He does everything from shining and polishing crisp leather loafers down to scrubbing and refreshing a beloved pair of tennis shoes. “The Internet is really amazing. I learned all about shoe maintenance there, everything from what products to use down to how to effectively whiten old shoes,”he said.
As an entrepreneur, this sneaker laundry is his primary form of income. The potential profits have the potential to change from week to week.
When asked about his relationship with money he recounted: “That was one of the first lessons I learned, that just because I have made a bit of money in the bank it does not mean I have to spend it all at once because there might not be anything coming in for another few weeks.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak many businesses including Matamela’s have taken a large hit.
He says people aren’t going out the way they used to anymore, meaning they have no more use for gleaming white sneakers.
But as lockdown restrictions ease up there has been a steady influx of customers once again. His saving habits really did help keep him afloat during that unprecedented time. In between growing his personal business, he is also a student at Rosebank College working on completing a qualification in systems administration.
His boutique sneaker laundry is still in its early phases and he does envision a bigger dream.
“I’ve been using and experimenting with so many different products and I think that I could make own range set to be sold around the world,” says Matamela.
“I have a bigger goal of spreading messages of self-reliance, especially in the townships. I think we have to remember to look inward. We have to remember that there is potential in the townships, and we should invest in each other’s businesses,”
You can support and follow Takalani’s blossoming business via Facebook page Shoe Shine Experts – Mukurukuru Media
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