Lekau Sehoana, 33, was born at a small village in Limpopo. He was raised by a single mother, as his parents divorced when he was only 2 years of age.
During that time, they moved to Alexandra for more employment opportunities. Later on, the family moved to Ivory Park, where they have settled since 1994.
Lekau is the last of his mother’s 3 children said his mother.
They were very poor, a mother with 3 children living in a tiny shack. They depended mostly on family handouts, sometimes things were so bad that they’d eat at friend’s houses.
According to Lekau, the situation was so bad that clothes and shoes were the last thing on their minds. They only thought of food.
Since he couldn’t get any new clothes, Lekau had to depend mostly on old handouts of clothes and shoes. Sometimes the handouts were bigger, which forced him to learn how to sew and make them nice and wearable.
While doing grade 8 in 2003, Lekau along with the rest of the school, were asked to come dressed with casual clothes, and as a poverty-stricken teenager, he had to come up with ways to fit in with the rest of the learners.
He saw a ripped Adidas sneaker and took the ripped parts out, remaining with the sole only. He redesigned the sneaker, utilizing denim jeans and polyurethane. When he debuted the sneakers, they became a hit and people loved them to bits.
Between 2003 and 2004, he was making sneakers with his hands and selling them, he managed to turn his talent and pain into a mini profit.
Lekau continued with his sneaker designing business until late 2006 because in 2007, he was going to matric.
Between 2008 and 2019, Lekau studied civil engineering, worked at a construction company, did research on professional shoe making and finally came up with a product.
In July 2019, after securing a R45 700 loan from Alfred Mashiya, Lekau launched Drip Footwear with 600 pairs. He sold out the sneakers from the boot of his car within six weeks, without any marketing strategy or celebrity endorsement.
The concept behind Drip’s name and its branding comes from the modern day usage of words. In literal sense, Drip means drops of liquid, but in urban street culture, it means looking nice and having a high fashion sense.
Drip’s bold design, versatility and collaborative culture, makes them stand out from the crowd.
It became clear to Lekau during interactions with customers while selling, that there was a demand for a new South African brand of sneakers.
In December of the same year, Lekau manufactured 1200 sneakers and sold them within a few days. This was enough to convince him there was a need for locally manufactured and branded shoes.
Lekau then started to consider launching his Drip Footwear business formally, however the world was suddenly experiencing the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
Despite this covid-19, along with its lockdown regulations, Lekau has so far managed to open 18 stores in reputable malls, sold thousands of sneakers, and employs over 100 people.
In January 2021, Lekau announced on his social media pages that he bought Legends Barber’s franchise, and has so far opened a single store in Tembisa Mall, with more stores along the way.
In June 2021, Lekau announced a long term partnership with award winning rapper, Cassper Nyovest, worth a reported R100 million over a period of 10 years.
After months working on the sneaker design, Cassper finally released his RootOfFame 990 that came in different colourways.
The collaboration seems to be doing well as Cassper said in a December Facebook post, he’s sold over 30 000 pairs of the 990s, despite the initial reception the sneakers received from social media.
Black Eagles FC
In October 2021, Drip Footwear acquired Black Eagles, a football club playing in ABC Motsepe League.
This was Drip Footwear’s first investment outside of selling sneakers. The company also creates its own kit for the club.
Lekau believes so much in giving back to the community and has vowed that in March 2022, he’ll be bringing an education center called DripEd to Ivory Park.
According to Lekau, he looks up to business owners: Ndaba Ntsele, Rita Zwane and Patrice Motsepe. He grew up listening to the likes of Kanye West and Jay Z, this helped shape his ways of thinking.
He looks up to people who’s had a similar story to his, and draws inspiration from them, whenever he’s going through a rough patch.