Career Focus | Local shoemaker changing lives one shoe repair at a time
You can’t put your best foot forward and walk confidently into the world when you are wearing uncomfortable shoes.
Tumisang Mokoaledi the founder of TG Leatherworks uses his talent to design, repair and manufacture custom-made leather shoes and belts.
He also repairs handbags and other leather items.
With over 10 years’ experience as shoemaker, he is the trusted man to fix any shoe problems in Ficksburg, Free State.
His love for making shoes started at a young age and he followed his passion by studying shoe production at Ithuseng Vocational College.
Once he became a qualified shoemaker, he opened his business with the aim of making shoe repairs and production affordable.
Most of his clients are people that are tired of wearing uncomfortable shoes that cause long term damage to ankles, knees, hips and lower back.
“I make shoes with extra padding to absorb impact when walking and I make sure they comfortable” says Tumisang.
His impressive reputation leads to the growth of his business because happy clients refer people to him.
When clients come to his workshop, he measures their feet and designs a shoe that complements the shape of the feet. Leather is his preferred shoe making material because it’s durable, water resistant and an excellent investment.
“Every shoe that comes to me has its own requirements. I carefully analyse it to figure out the best way is to fix it while keeping the client's budget in mind” says Tumisang.
In summer, the leather sandals he makes are in high demand and in winter, boot repairs keep him busy.
Ill-fitting shoes can cause corns, ingrown toenails, fungal infections, and athlete’s foot. The pain of wearing uncomfortable shoes is unbearable. “As a person living with a disability on my feet, I know what it feels like to struggle to find shoes that fit well” says Tumisang.
Repairing shoes for his poor community is close to his heart and is the reason he started TG Leatherworks.
“It made me sad to see school children wearing torn school shoes with no soles and because of this, I created a school shoe range” says Tumisang.
The shoe range is made from affordable split leather with injection mould soles which is affordable.
His clients are mostly workers that are always on their feet and need regular shoe repairs and comfortable custom shoes.
Running a business is not easy and comes with its own challenges. “Sometimes clients don’t come back to pay for the order. This leads to loss of revenue because I’ve already used leather to manufacture the shoe” says Tumisang.
But for this craftsman, being an entrepreneur means that he gets to wake up every morning and do what he loves and service community.
For a flagging economy, small businesses like TG Leatherworks are a step in the right direction.