The amazing success story of a young sneaker designer Theo Baloyi of Ibathu brand
By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
He started in the corporate sector working mainly in finance and strategy consulting, a profession that saw him work overseas in Dubai for sometime.
However Theo Baloyi’s heart was in entrepreneurship, as while he was working full time in the corporate sector, e never forgot his dream of starting his own business, which he did in 2014, saying bye bye to a well paying job that came with all the comfort in the corporate sector for an uncertain lonely journey as an entrepreneur.
But come 2017, he opened his first shop selling the new famous sneaker brand Ibathu under the auspices of his company Bathu Shoes. The 30 year old businessman has achieved so much success within a short space of time, to an extent that to date there are 25 Ibathu stores strategically located in urban shopping centers around the country, and the business employs more than 200 staff, mainly young people. Bathu Shoes is still growing as the brand has found traction in the hearts on the feet of many who love, especially the South African story of success and determination, that is embedded in this brand.
His sneaker designs, that are distinct and stand out from the rest as they are boldly colourful, are especially popular with young urbanites, to an extent that it is not unusual, especially at month end to witness snaking queues of patient customers outside Ibathu Stores waiting for their turn to snatch a pair of colourful Ibathu sneaker. Ironically these queues are almost similar to the ones, one has been seeing at post offices around the country as mainly unemployed, desperate youth queued for the Covid-19 grants during the Pandemic induced lockdowns that have been a common feature of our economic and social life since Covid hit our shores in March 2020, necessitating the lockdown.
But unlike the long lines of the youth wearing faces of despair at South African Social Services (SASS) pay points, those at Ibathu stores are lines of hopeful and loaded, gainfully employed youth, ready to spend their hard earned money on a sneaker that costs anything from R12 00 up.
Young entrepreneur Baloyi, has certainly arrived, and this is his time to make it big in the highly competitive sneaker business in the country, with his now well entrenched brand of Ibathu sneaker competing well with international brands. And gauging by bthe number of stores this young man keeps on opening, seemingly every single month, he is giving his competitors a good run for their money.
The success achieved by this entrepreneur is now being felt in corporate South Africa as Baloyi, who was born in Hammanskraal, grew up in the mainly shackland township of Alexandra and a graduate with a B.Com Degree from Wits, is now getting corporate South Africa to notice.
His company Bathu Shoes has just snatched the Top Empowerment Award category this week, as a leading brand awarded this accolade in the job creation category of Top Empowerment Awards.
“We are happy to share one of our milestone achievements as a business. The Job Creation Award 2021, endorsed by Top Empowerment.
This is such a prestigious award as it speaks about how we have transformed and kept the consistency from our mission, to reignite hope and create sustainable jobs.
Well done Team on contributing to the success of the business, thank you to our clients and corporate South Africa for your continuous support.
Thank you @Top Empowerment for the recognition,” he said this week about Bathu Shoes’ triumph.
This latest triumph follows several others he has won since he opened hs first store in 2017. To date Theo has 12 honors.
Honors & Awards
- 2020 Top Young Achiever of the Year – Top Empowerment Awards
- BBQ Awards – Businessman of the Year Award 2020
- BBQ Awards – Transformation Champion of the Year Award 2020
- Young Executive of the Year 2019 (Finalist) – National Business Awards
- 2020 Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Gauteng Premier Service Excellence Awards
- Fastest Growing Business Brand 2019 (Finalist) – National Business Awards
- SME Award 2019 (Finalist) – Vision 2030 Awards
- Emerging Business – Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 – Sanlam & Business Partners.
- Forbes Africa 30 under 30 – 2019
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 – South African Business Premier Awards.
- 2019 Most influential Young South African in Business – Avance Media
- 2020 Most influential young South African in Business