Tailor-made for runaway success

To chase the wolf away from the door, Muimeleli Mutangwa formulated a detergent to wash other students' sneakers.

The 24-year-old is the owner of TailorKlinik, based in Braamfontein , Johannesburg. It cleans sneakers and gets them dry within five hours.

"I clean and repair shoes, sneakers and accessories. If you bring your sneakers before 11am you will get them clean the same day as I have also designed a drying system that dries shoes within five hours," Mutangwa said.

It has not always been smooth sailing for the University of Witwatersrand student.

"After I completed my degree in chemical engineering, I wanted to do a master's but my scholarship only covered accommodation and tuition. I had to make a plan to buy food and pay for my other expenses.

"I then realised that students wanted to look clean but had no time to clean their sneakers. I saw a gap in there and started working on creating [the right] detergent.

"I started washing students' sneakers in 2014 using cleaning products available in stores. However, I wanted something that works in a specific way so I decided to invest my time in creating a detergent that would work differently from the ones in the stores.

"Even though it took me a couple of months, at the end I knew what I wanted to achieve. It was not easy at first as people called me the shoe guy and my peers would make fun of me. But I was not bothered by that because I knew what I wanted to achieve."

Mutangwa said he was excited that he did not let the negative response discourage him as he is now doing better than when he started.

"In 2015 I created the detergent and also managed to register my business. In the same year I came in second place in the inter-varsity business pitch competition.

"Then, towards 2016, I opened a shop in Braamfontein. What I can say is that I am now able to think about getting my PhD without worrying too much [about my] living expenses and black tax."

When he is not busy with applied science research, which has become his passion, Mutangwa works as an editor at Ink Matter, a company that focuses on publishing and promoting the work of emerging authors. He is also the author of the book Before Varsity.

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