The love of sneakers is universal.
But according to businessman Lutendo Tshikovhi, people do not have a matching desire to keep them clean. And after overhearing a heated argument between a person who washes sneakers and an unsatisfied customer, Tshikovhi saw an opportunity to clean out the opposition in this sector. The Thohoyandou, Limpopo-based Tshikovhi told Vutivi News that he established his company four years ago after he felt that a regular job was not fulfilling.
“I worked for a lot of companies and I started feeling unfulfilled and losing interest in my work. Fortunately, an opportunity arose when I lost my job and I immediately researched the type of business I was looking to start,” he said. “I didn’t find anything that stood out to me, until that day when I heard the unsatisfied customer at the carwash. It was that moment that I decided to capture customers by doing the job professionally.”
Tshikovhi said that when he started out it was not easy for people to trust his business called Sneaker Kitchen. “People are very attached to their sneakers so I had to make them trust me,” he explained. Tshikovhi does not only wash sneakers but restores, dyes and stretches shoes.
He also works on other fabrics like handbags and sports bags. The business has customers from around the country. “Customers usually send their sneakers to be dyed, so they courier them. Others contact us via Facebook and even make requests for us to branch out into other provinces,” he said. “I learned that a person can buy a lot of shoes in a year but only wash them rarely, and I decided to exploit this opportunity,” he pointed out.
Expanding is on the cards for Sneaker Kitchen. “I am planning on branching out to Polokwane, Tshwane and the North West,” he said. “I want to start with Polokwane where I was supposed to open before Covid-19, something which I am hoping to do by April 2022,” Tshikovhi said that he also enjoyed learning from his customers.
“What I love the most about this work is that I get to meet different people and they would give me a suggestion, which I would then proceed to conduct research on,” he said. “Sometimes I would find that the suggestion is viable and can be implemented, and other times I find that my pockets restrain me from implementing a suggestion, so I wait until the funds are available.
“I have learned a lot and I have enjoyed every moment,” said Tshikovhi.