From Rags to Riches: The Inspiring Journey of Lekau Sehoana

Lekau Sehoana, aged 35, was born in a small village in Limpopo and was raised by his single mother after his parents divorced when he was just two years old.

In search of better job opportunities, they moved to Alexandra and later settled in Ivory Park in 1994. Their living conditions were extremely poor, living in a small shack with Lekau’s mother and his two siblings. They relied heavily on handouts from family members, and sometimes they had to rely on eating at friends’ houses due to their dire circumstances.

Clothing and shoes were not a priority for them as they struggled to put food on the table. Lekau had to make do with hand-me-down clothes and shoes, often having to repair them himself to make them presentable.

During his eighth grade year in 2003, the school requested that students dress casually, which posed a challenge for Lekau, who came from a poverty-stricken background. In a stroke of creativity, he repurposed a ripped Adidas sneaker, using denim jeans and polyurethane to redesign and repair it. The unique sneakers became an instant hit when he showcased them, garnering widespread admiration.

From 2003 to 2004, Lekau handmade sneakers and sold them, turning his talent and personal experiences into a small profit. He continued this business until late 2006 when he focused on completing his matriculation in 2007.

Between 2008 and 2019, Lekau studied civil engineering, worked in construction, conducted research on professional shoe-making, and eventually developed his own product.

In July 2019, with a loan of R45,700 ($25,00), Lekau launched Drip Footwear with an initial batch of 600 pairs. Within six weeks, he sold out all the sneakers from the trunk of his car, without any marketing strategy or celebrity endorsements.

Drip Sneaker.

The name and branding of Drip Footwear stem from modern-day street culture, where “drip” represents looking fashionable and having a high sense of style.

Through interactions with customers during sales, Lekau realized that there was a demand for a new South African sneaker brand. In December of the same year, he produced 1,200 sneakers and sold them within days, solidifying his belief in the need for locally manufactured and branded shoes.

Also read: They Quit Banking Job to build one of the Renowned Beer brands in South Africa

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown regulations, Lekau managed to open 18 stores in reputable malls, sell thousands of sneakers, and employ over 100 people.

Drip Footwear Store.

In January 2021, Lekau acquired the Legends Barber’s franchise, opening a store in Tembisa Mall, with plans for more stores in the future.

In June 2021, Lekau announced a long-term partnership with award-winning rapper Cassper Nyovest, valued at R100 million over a decade. Together, they released the RootOfFame 990 sneaker in various colorways, which has garnered significant sales success.

In October 2021, Drip Footwear made its first investment outside of sneaker sales by acquiring the Black Eagles football club, competing in the ABC Motsepe League. The company also creates custom kits for the club.

Lekau is committed to giving back to the community and has plans to establish an education center called DripEd in Ivory Park by March 2022.

Lekau draws inspiration from successful business owners such as Ndaba Ntsele, Rita Zwane, and Patrice Motsepe. He grew up listening to influential figures like Kanye West and Jay-Z, whose experiences and stories have shaped his own mindset and entrepreneurial journey.

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