By: Tebogo Mokwena
Utlwanang Mmeti is only 17 years old, but he already has a sneaker brand to his name. After noticing how South Africans were eagerly buying locally produced sneakers, he decided to get busy and launched his own brand known as Dapper this year. Mmeti, who is a resident of Luka Village in Rustenburg, told Vutivi News that he spent a year doing research and collecting the money he needed to start. “It was very challenging to collect the information, especially when it came to the manufacturing part,” he said.
“My brother, Ikageng, played a huge part and continues to play a part in the business. “My family has also been supportive as they provided me with the loan to start the business.” Mmeti manufactures his sneakers with a company that is based overseas. “I found out that it was cheaper for me to manufacture overseas as opposed to doing it locally,” he explained.
“My sneakers are bought by customers nationwide, and we have an online store where sneakers can be purchased. “The sneakers come in four different colours for both men and women: red and white, brown, red, and black and turquoise.” They are lightweight and designed for South Africa’s sunny weather. Mmeti said he also used Facebook’s paid advertising option and paid social media influencers to market his sneakers.
However, sales remained one of Mmeti’s greatest challenges. This was because people did not trust online purchasing. “I’ve found that a lot of customers are hesitant to buy the product because they still think that online purchasing is a scam,” he said. “I convince them by letting them know that our shoes are delivered through Paxi, Pep’s delivery option.” However, Mmeti loves being an entrepreneur and plans on sticking with the business.
“I find that selling brings me a lot of joy, and even though many people find it very strange that such a classy sneaker brand is owned by a young person like myself, it is always the look they get when they receive their product, try them on and find out that the product exceeds their expectations (that I love),” he said. Mmeti said that he would focus on his business full-time after he matriculated this year. “I am going to be taking a gap year to explore being an entrepreneur, as I want to be more hands-on in the marketing and administration of the business,” he also said.