Theo Baloyi is a very vibrant gentleman raised in a place called Phake in Hamanskraal, he has a very contagious character of positivity, as is expected from any entrepreneur. Founder of a world class shoe brand called Bathu, which is a proudly South African brand started in his bedroom in Alexandra about four years ago.
His office setup is made up of glass walls which gives you a feeling that he is transparent to his employees and about his vision. On the many occasions that I have met him, he is always rocking his own brand, every time in different colours.
While designing the set for the interview, we had the privilege of chatting to two of his employees, who firstly know Theo’s character in and out, what he likes and doesn’t like, this tells you that the man is connected to his personnel, secondly you can feel the business DNA that is infused in them listening to what they say about the brand.
The man is very busy and you have to respect his time when working with him, we had the conversation after office hours, and immediately after that he had to run off to another meeting at around 20:00.
In the entire conversation we had with him, he never used the word “I” when referring to his business, the man holds his employees in high regard, and he clearly demonstrated that they form an integral part of his corporate value chain. He understands that world class businesses are built through collaborations, relationships and hard work. He prides himself in that they employ qualified young professionals who work tirelessly to make this “Genuine African Sneaker Brand” a success. He refers to his sneakers as a “Feel Good Shoe” for people who want to dress up to meet the world.
Theo opens up about the key business aspects that he has learnt in the four years of his sneaker business, and also the challenges that he has encountered. It goes without saying, that the man is a pioneer in choosing to produce his products locally in a factory based in Durban, that is a very visionary move in the sense that he creates the much need jobs in the country. He employs about 36 young people of which 25 of them are from his home town of Alexandra.
Theo Baloyi is telling an African narrative to the world.
Written by: Kabelo Motsugi