When Katleho Mohlomi’s former business partners, who were also his friends, destroyed his shoemaking business, he was heartbroken. But he held onto the hope that one day he would be successful again, and three years after losing his first business, he opened Bataung Leather Shoes in 2020. Mohlomi, who is from Welkom in the Free State, said that he had learned the shoemaking trade from his uncle.
“My love for the trade developed in 2006 when I started visiting my uncle in Durban, and he taught me how to make leather products,” he said. He told Vutivi News it was his idea when he approached his friends in 2015 to enter the leather shoemaking trade as he believed there was money to be made.
“We started a business… and it became very profitable, however, my business partners wasted the profits on alcohol and parties,” Mohlomi said. “Furthermore, our equipment was stolen and that made things worse, so I decided to shut the business down.”
In 2017 he went his own way and started working with a man in Welkom called Noah Mlangeni. After going at it for a few years and developing a solid client base, Mohlomi registered Bataung Leather Shoes. He now works with two other leather shoemakers, and together they produce shoes, belts, bags and watch straps. They also repair shoes.
Mohlomi said that they supplied shoe sellers around the country and a market in Durban. Mohlomi said that going at it alone was one of his best decisions as he was delighted to be working with people who shared his passions and vision. “We recently attended the Intra-Africa Trade Fair in Durban where we were exhibitors, and we made quite a few sales. We even met a client from Nigeria who bought a lot of shoes and promised to begin stocking 1000 shoes per week from us should we obtain the machinery,” he told Vutivi News.
“Towards that end, we were able to obtain machinery from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency, which we will receive by the end of this month so that we can increase capacity,” Mohlomi said his greatest joy was bringing a client’s imagination to life.
“Clients will ask us to make a particular design for them and when they see that we are able to make their dreams come true, the look on their face is priceless.”