Drip all year round with Lekau Sehoana

The founder of Drip Footwear's love for shoes was inspired by music and poverty

30 November 2021 - 12:28
By Karabo Ledwaba
Lekau Sehoana, founder of Drip Footwear.
Image: Veli Nhlapo Lekau Sehoana, founder of Drip Footwear.

It has taken Lekau Sehoana, founder of Drip Footwear, little more than two years to build an empire, and the 33-year-old is the only accessory maker contributing to the S1981 capsule collection. 

What inspired your love of shoes?

Music and poverty — at school I didn’t have shoes to wear to a school function, so I went home and saw an old, torn sneaker. I thought I could use denim and redesign the sneaker so I could attend the function. I started doing research, but because social media wasn’t that big yet, I looked around at what people were wearing. I was also listening to a lot of hip-hop.

Your grandmother has also inspired you. What does she think of your success?

She taught me how to sew and how to be independent from an early age. She is a very proud grandmother — seeing one of her grandkids own a business is a big thing for her.

You recently rebranded and changed your slogan — why?

We rebranded and changed the slogan [from “The Township Dream” to “LIVE YOUR GREAT”] to accommodate growth and other elements of the brand that we will be adding in the near future — not sneakers, but more products coming from the brand. We want to remind people to live their great, because this is a brand of inspiration. My story has inspired a lot of people, and we also want to remind people that they are great. “The Township Dream” was also a bit limiting in terms of relatability.

What other products will you be selling?

We will also have socks, sling bags, and sunglasses.

How many stores do you have now?

We have 18 stores now, and soon we’ll have 20. It feels great to be this young and, after two years and six months, to own a brand that employs so many people. I think we are sitting at 115 employees right now. I have a huge responsibility; God forbid something goes wrong — what am I going to do with 115 people? That’s what pushes me, that we have to keep the jobs and keep the brand.

The S1981 Drip sneaker inspired by the front page of Sowetan when we won the 1996 African Cup of Nations.
The S1981 Drip sneaker inspired by the front page of Sowetan when we won the 1996 African Cup of Nations.

What is next?

We are going to see Drip going into sports. I bought a soccer team [Black Eagles FC] to align the brand. We are also moving into the Southern African Development Community and other areas. Currently, we have stores in all nine provinces except Northern Cape. We are also going to see more colour and products.

What is the space you’ll be opening in Ivory Park?

As the Township Dream Foundation we will turn my former home into a free education centre, DripEd, since this is an informal settlement and a lot of kids don’t have electricity or people to help them with their homework. That was a problem I encountered growing up there, so I went back and said I could use the brand to be a force for change in my community.

How does it feel to be part of S1981?

Aligning with Sowetan feels great. Most of the time, when you start a business it takes a long time to be recognised by the media and consumers, especially as a black brand. Getting that call asking if we would be a part of this, along with so many great names, was a proud moment and I felt humbled.

What inspired the shoe you’re making for S1981?

The inspiration came from the front page of Sowetan when we won the 1996 African Cup of Nations.

Do you remember where you were when Bafana Bafana won?

I was still very young — I think I was seven, if I’m not mistaken. I remember the nation uniting. With this shoe we wanted to match that feeling. We wanted to take people back to the memory of winning the cup.