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5 minutes with Bathu founder, Theo Baloyi

Theo Baloyi of Alexandra in Joburg is the owner of sneaker brand Bathu.
Theo Baloyi of Alexandra in Joburg is the owner of sneaker brand Bathu.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Theo Baloyi, the man behind the sneaker brand Bathu, is someone whose story of hard work, perseverance and success truly inspires.

After launching Bathu in 2015 following an arduous process and the refusal to give up, demand for the brand has grown exponentially and fans can now buy a range of Bathu sneakers from stores across the country.

Bathu has now piqued the interest of big name brand Castle Lite who have collaborated with the sneaker brand in their latest campaign.

We spoke to the entrepreneur to find out about his love for sneakers, his collab and future plans. 

Let’s go back to the early days of conceptualising the Bathu brand. What made you believe that the idea could work?

I identified a need in the market, which at the time was the need for an African sneaker brand that our people can proudly affiliate with. It was only after 18 months of proof of concept that I was confident that the brand would be successful.

During those early days when you were in the process of being rejected by 13 different factories, did you consider giving up and did you ever dream that Bathu would become such a sought-after brand?

Giving up was never an option for me; I knew that I had to get it right. Everytime I was rejected, I knew I had to get back to the drawing board in order to improve on the concept. The vision was beyond just Theo Baloyi.

What is it about sneakers that you think makes people fall in love?

It’s “sole movement”. I believe that it represents progress for a lot of people as they walk through their life’s journey and ensuring that you look good in the process – which is what the Bathu brand represents for a lot of people. It’s more than just another sneaker, it’s a symbol of hope.

What was the idea behind entering into a collab with Castle Lite?

The collab came about at a time as we are rolling out our expansion strategy. We are intentional about expanding our national footprint. People have seen it in the exponential rate that we are increasing our footprint from a brick and mortar perspective. The collab supports that very strategy. It’s a privilege to live in the same space as a big brand like Castle Lite. The collab is creating an opportunity to allow the Bathu brand to tap into the Castle Lite market as much as they are tapping into our market.

The slogan of the collab is “unbox yourself”. Has the Covid-19 pandemic changed your view or appreciation of freedom?

Most definitely. I also believe that the pandemic gave us an opportunity to stop and self-reflect. Our team came out the pandemic more focused and driven.

How have you personally been “unboxing yourself” since we’ve gone out of hard lockdown?

My team and I have hit the ground running after hard lockdown. We spent the most of lockdown self-reflecting as a team and strategising. Now it’s time to unlock all the prep work.

What are your plans for creating an African footprint around the world? Where will you start with this?

Plans are underway. That’s all I am willing to say for now.