Jide Ipaye has always been a sneaker-head, but while growing up, he began to find it difficult to find shoes that fit his big size 48 feet and suited his style. This is what drove him to learn how to make shoes and ultimately birthed the brand, KEEXS.
Keexs founder, Jide Ipaye.
In a market where sales is driven by identity, the African voice is missing. This is one of the things that KEEXS founder, Jide Ipaye is tackling by pioneering Africa’s first innovative and social oriented footwear brand.
In addition to addressing a need in the market, Keexs incorporates a humanitarian and socially conscious aspect into their brand. 10% of their profit is given to charity. Also, in employing Nigerians and Africans in the creative process, more jobs are created, and more money is ploughed back into the economy, cementing their claim as Africa’s first innovative and socially oriented footwear brand.
Keexs’ brand and products represent Africa, in every sense. From their logo, which is a graphical rendition of “chop knuckle” – a fist bump, to the prints, and the brand colours; red and black, which represent passion, strength and black pride respectively.Most of the shoe designs come in bright colours, which would appeal to a more youthful and expressive audience. While some of their designs, like the Ah-free-can and the Eyo are inspired by Africans and African tradition, there is a unique African story behind all their shoes. The Ah-free-can features Fela’s face, while the Eyo slip on has an Eyo masquerade imprinted on it.
So, while Nike makes shoes that have the American flag, American heroes and superheroes, or the dollar sign imprinted on them, we also have Keexs here, using shoes to tell stories that we can identify with, and that we are a part of.Now, I won’t jump the gun and say that “we have our own Nike now” because that would be incorrect. We do not have “our own Nike” – whatever that means, and I am not even sure we want one. What we do have, however, is our own Keexs. A brand, by us, and, for us.
Copping a Pair.
Getting a pair of Keexs shoes is as easy as typing Keexs. Yep!All you need to do is go to their website at keexs.com and order a pair, or check for a list of online vendors and physical stores where you can get them here. The prices range between N7,999 – N17,999 ($22 – $50).KEEXS footwear is socially conscious, innovative and affordable.While African fashion industry is looking inwards to create magic with our locally sourced materials, we advice you to turn it up a notch, put on a pair of Keexs, and step into identity.
Soyez Fleek , a street style fashion Brand, has just launched its t-shirt collection, using a unique blend of creativity and belief systems to share the rich and vibrant Nigerian culture. Soyez Fleek’s mission is clear: to express Nigerian’s dynamic street culture with the world in a very distinct, creative, simple and relatable way, and at an affordable price.
Founder & Brand Inspiration
Asked about the inspiration behind the collection, Nkechi Nwosu – founder of Soyez Fleek said “living abroad for close to four years. I saw that the conversation around Nigeria was stereotypical and hardly ventured beyond corruption, poverty, terrorism, and the “Nigerian Prince” story! It was almost impossible to share our vibrant colorful culture when we were constantly defending ourselves from these generalizations. I began to imagine a different type of conversation where each encounter would be a chance to share something new and unique about Nigeria.”
This was what inspired the creation of the Soyez Fleek clothing line. Through the use of Nigerian’s popular street slangs, the fashion collection offers Nigerians in diaspora a strong feeling of connection to home and the opportunity to tell their story in their own unique way.
With an urban casual aesthetic, the collection appeals to both Nigerians and ‘friends’ of Nigeria who love and identify with its culture. Using popular slangs and expressions that have become a part of the Nigerian identity, the collection distinctively and boldly says NIGERIAN. It paves the way for a new narrative; one that celebrates culture, the resilience of the Nigerian people every day and the beauty of the Nigerian Pidgin English language.
The collection includes creative illustrations of Nigerians most popular expressions such as Up NEPA, Chop Knuckle, Wetin Dey Happen, Tear Rubber, and No Wahala. It is a way to encourage a positive narrative of the Nigerian spirit and way of life. The product range includes many variations of sweatshirts, hoodies, t-shirts, and shopping bags, available for men, women, and kids.
The collection is for the bold Nigerian who is unapologetic about the country’s rich vibrant culture and loves to share it. Soyez Fleek is a street fashion brand for friends of Nigeria who want to stay connected to the Nigerian energy, vibe, and spirit.
Based in France, Europe, Soyez Fleek’s products are produced in Europe, assuring only the best in quality. The entire collection is exclusively available online and ships worldwide.
What’s even more? The fashion brand offers the option for clients to customize their own designs.
Shop the Street Fashion Collection
Since the collection launch on April 1st, 2019, Nkechi disclosed that they have been overwhelmed by the positive reception of the brand and especially with the ‘Up NEPA’ design – an expression which most Nigerians have used more than once in their lifetime and is still in use even till date.
She adds “beyond the products, we are excited at the possible impact that a simple slang or expression can have in reshaping the narrative about Nigeria and opening the world up to a new perception of what it means to be a Nigerian”.
“During our product testing phase, we recognized that a lot of our customers would love to customize their products with their own favorite slangs, different from the range we currently offer. We also received a lot of interest from corporate organizations who would love to customize gift items with unique expressions that reflect the culture and value of their organization”
Sprinble is a Nigerian-based agency that consists of domain experts in Web & Mobile technology, UI/UX designs, and digital marketing with a goal to connect people and brands in more meaningful ways. Founded in April 2018 by Goodness Kayode and Mide Olayinka, Sprinble is concerned about delivering a masterpiece to individuals and businesses by focusing on the actual people who use the products.
About the Founders and Inspiration Behind the Brand
Goodness Kayode, a graduate of English from Obafemi Awolowo University with his roots in Ibadan, Oyo state, found light in tech and decided to use it to solve problems. Over the years, he has fueled his passion for tech by working in and for several fields in the tech industry. This includes being a Software Engineer at Acounteer; an Organizer of Codepen Africa; Author on Scotch, FreeCodeCamp, Codementor and Codeburst; Expert mentor at Codementor and also a Technical Consultant to businesses in different industries. Goodness has also worked in startups like PubCulture and Norman (Al Health Startup) and also founded a company called Codebag that trained students in software development, digital marketing, designs, and project management remotely. Today, he is the Founder of Sprinble.
Mide Olayinka, a Co-founder of Sprinble alongside Goodness Kayode, is also a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University. A voyager and traveler, Mide is curious about entrepreneurship and tech in building an ecosystem and its importance in creating a sound and viable support system. He is familiar with words and likes the clarity they bring; in line with this, he writes occasionally for Millenial Poets on Medium. Also worthy of note is that Mide is passionate about nation-building and the indisputable connection in ideas, access, and stature.
Sprinble started with a passion to know more about different industries and solve problems after the founders found loopholes in some of these industries. In an interview with ISOKO Africa, Goodness Kayode pointed out that when he found this passion, with the aim to pursue it, his job back then did not allow him much freedom, as he had to focus mainly on the space they were in.
When he finally decided to kick off with Sprinble, there were certain concerns, including being unique among competitors and having a strong motivation to drive the brand. While speculating on this, one word- “Masterpiece” came to mind; the will to win, the desire to succeed and the urge to reach their potential. According to Goodness, “We don’t want to follow the norm. We want to make less noise and make more impact”.
Sprinble functions primarily to solve one problem- to bring businesses from their hidden corners, digitize them and set them on the path to achieving a higher revenue, higher credibility, and faster growth. The target audience includes all categories of business ranging from startups, SMEs to big organizations.
A Breakdown of the Service at Sprinble:
Web & Mobile Development: they build web and mobile applications that suit the specific brand’s business goals and something that the target audience will love.
Digital Marketing: this is set at delivering results-driven solutions to clients across Africa and ensure it reaches the hearts of the target audience.
UI/UX and Creative Designs: this is where they turn imaginations to awesome visuals by creating masterpiece designs ranging from branding, illustrations, motion graphics, UI/UX designs and so on.
The price range for each of these depends on the requirements of each brand opting for their service. These services are also not limited by location, as Sprinble has successfully worked with companies in Kenya, Dubai and the United States.
Sprinble currently has about 13 staff members and this includes the Creative Designers, Developers, Digital Marketers, and Project Managers. There are 7 full-time members and 6 as Interns and NYSC members. The business environment works semi-remotely, such that the team members are allowed 2 of 5 days in a week to work from anywhere and there are also full-time remote team members. The goal for Sprinble is to ensure that the clients are happy with the masterpiece outcome and that, exactly, is the focus.
The Future for Sprinble
Sprinble currently promotes its service by riding on the relationships that they have built over time with clients. In their 9 months of existence, they have been able to work on over 40 brands, including Glo, DriversNG, Kudi.ai, Cranium One, FitFamFest (Africa’s Largest fitfam festival), ALML Group (Services Virgin Atlantic, GSK amongst others), and Africa Franchise Institute, among others.
Sprinble currently has a goal to be one of the biggest agencies in Africa by 2025 without losing the meaningful connection they constantly aim to achieve with every brand they work with. They also plan to grow bigger, while providing excellent solutions for businesses.
Sprinble has a goal to constantly ensure that the success of a project is the joy of a client and they do not intend to stop until that is achieved, regardless of what it would cost. They also ensure that they help their clients see what they can’t see themselves by building products that exceed their expectation.
A A K S is a handcrafted luxury handbag brand founded in 2014 by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi. It is her name that forms the acronym A A K S. The Ghanaian brand started with Akosua’s goal to introduce the world to her favorite weaving techniques! Her bags are made by local artisans in Ghana. Some of the things A A K S seeks to address include:
Detailed attention to craftsmanship, authenticity and ethical values
A strong sense of identity and quality
Creating collections that tell a different story through detail, color and shape
To give a unique A A K S stamp to every piece
About the Founder and the Inspiration Behind the Brand
Akosua Afriyie-Kumi is a Ghanaian native with a BA (Hons) Fashion degree from Kingston University London. She grew up in Ghana with a passion for art. This led her to leave Ghana to study in England to broaden her mind and gain more experience. Once finished, she returned to Ghana to support the creative industry in the country and to build a luxury African brand which led to the birth of A A K S. The drive to pursue her passion came from noticing the gap in the market for beautifully handcrafted luxury bags made with locally sourced materials.
Akosua is currently based in Ghana and occasionally travels to and throughout Europe and Africa to collaborate with other local artisans and also gain more inspiration for her brand.
In addition to designing and weaving bags, Akosua loves photography. She draws inspiration from the things she photographs whenever she travels. She also says she is inspired by the strong desire to create a unique kind of handcrafted bag. Something unique she can twist to her taste – softer, foldable and with blends of colors.
What makes A A K S Proudly African?
The A A K S products are made by local artisan weavers who sit under a baobab tree to create woven bags together while having fun. The women make these bags with raffia which is soft and creates softer and foldable bags. Raffia is a great choice, not just because it is soft, but also for its organic, natural, renewable and biodegradable nature. Raffia comes in different colors and is woven with leather. With a dedication to modern style, while incorporating handed down traditional skills, it takes about a week to make a bag. In this way each bag tells the story of the artisan who made it. There is a signature tag to every piece to guarantee authenticity.
The raffia is harvested from local farmers in Ghana, which helps to grow the economy. The brand also helps reduce the unemployment rate. They create sustainable jobs for the women who constantly weave the bags.
A A K S aims to renew some of the old traditional skills and techniques to compete with the international standard of design. This will help them be fit for the modern fashion individual!
Achievements so far:
Shortlisted as an emerging designer from Africa by Vogue Italia
Featured by Elle Decoration, Vogue, CNN Forbes Women Africa, Guardian UK and more
The woven bag collections are now in about 60 stores worldwide
The Future for A A K S
Akosua has plans to venture into clothes and print designs for her brand and also intends to explore the home interior area in the fashion industry. But before that, her plan is to build a solid foundation and make an indelible mark with her bags.
Agriculture has always been a major mainstay in Africa. From the early times when individuals practiced sole subsistence farming to the times when markets were built for the sale of agricultural produce, and of course, modern times when we desperately need farmers to plant and rear a vast majority of the food we eat. In recent times, however, agriculture in Africa has not been able to adequately plug the gaping holes that our growing population needs, hence, we have to resort to importing both agricultural produce and processed food. The implication of this is a massive reduction in the GDP of African countries and a general loss of revenue, both to the government and individuals involved in the overall process of food production.
Successive governments have tried to combat this problem by using various schemes to incentivize farming and making attractive enough for more people to come in. Ultimately, this will yield results, but one vital part is constantly left out: The link between the farmers and their markets. And this is the heart of what Agrocenta, a Ghanaian technology startup, is working actively on.
Agrocenta is a technology company focused on solving market linkage and financial inclusion problems in the agricultural value chain. It was founded by Francis Obirikorang (CEO) and Michael K. Ocansey (CTO) in 2015. Their aim was to tackle two critical areas of importance to the farmers: access to a viable and profitable market, and access to finance and credit facilities. They decided to solve these problems by leveraging on technology through three outlets which they developed: AgroInfo, AgroTrade, AgroPay, and the Truckr app.
This is how these technologies work individually and in synergy: Imagine a small farmer in rural Ghana, for example. We’ll call him Sam. Let’s say Sam has a small farm that grows beans. An Agrocenta agent approaches Sam and signs him on to the Agrocenta platforms. Within the process of farming – planting crops and tending before harvest – Sam gets updates on the weather, how the micro-climate might affect his crops or turn out and more through Agrocenta’s AgroInfo platform. Based on the information he has obtained from AgroInfo, Sam plants his crops and takes precautions and safeguards that eventually make him have a great harvest.
Before his contact with Agrocenta’s agent, Sam would usually sell his products to one middle man – who had little or no competition – from one of the major urban centers. But now, all Sam has to do is notify the agent that he has produce in stock, and his information is updated on the AgroTrade platform, which is a virtual marketplace that links farmers to potential buyers. All of a sudden, Sam has different people calling him to buy his products. He eventually sells to the highest bidder.
Agrocenta, through the Truckr app, also helps farmers get their goods to their intended destinations in a very short time. Agrocenta partnered with the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, who has a horde of commercial drivers that can help to transport farmers’ products on short notice. Sam quickly calls a transporter on the Truckr platform and in very little time, his goods are on their way to the paying customer.
If Sam needs to expand his farm, or boost productivity in a particular stage of production, by obtaining a loan from the bank, then AgroPay is the answer. Because banks would usually need to know that the farmer can pay back his loan in due time, they usually require a paper trail of the transactions that he has made through his business – the farm. Sam’s former transactions with middlemen were mostly cash-for-produce, and there was no established paper trail, except, perhaps, whenever he went to put money in the bank. With AgroPay, however, all his transactions can be re-traced and used as a verifiable history of transactions to be presented to the banks.
Agrocenta’s work is cut out for them, and they’re doing it well. Currently, over 12,000 farmers are registered on the platform and the number is growing. More than ever, Agrocenta is giving more autonomy to the African farmer – a move that helps him to make a better decision as to where, how and at what price his produce is sold. The exploitative middleman is one less problem to worry about now, which ultimately means more money in his pockets.
To find out more, you can visit the Agrocenta website at Agrocenta.com .
Olawale Onibata is an indigenous African brand providing the market with quality premium footwear that speak to individuals’ specific needs. The shoes are made in Nigeria to supply a growing market and demand!
About the company
Established in 2011, Olawale Onibata Inc. was first created out of the love of shoes. The Nigerian born Creative Director, Olawale Olukunga says, “While I was in school I found myself knowing names of different shoes everyone around me was putting on. From there it just became part of me. I started of with selling designer shoes and I did that for three years (with the nickname olawale footlocker). After school, during my NYSC period, I learnt the process of shoe-making”.
The O.O brand – as it is fondly called – is known for bespoke leather works ranging from shoes, slippers, sandals to boots and loafers. Onibata provides customized solutions for customers, taking into consideration the customers’ needs and style and matching products that meet the customer’s budget. By now they have served over a thousand customers and have established a strong supplier network to always ensure customers’ needs are met.
Making these bespoke pieces involves a lot of work, scrutiny and attention to detail. The materials come from the leather market in Lagos and its environs. It is very important to them to source locally and to satisfy a growing demand for their goods. On top of this O.O wants to be a trendsetter, creating new looks and offering people a wide variety. Currently there is a range of 12 products available. With a growing youth population this is sure to expand in the future as they aim to fill a gap in the market. “We have the best of workers. People that are ready to learn and improve and they constantly raise the bar in the area of hard work. We work from the creative director’s home for now”.
The O.O brand boasts of a good delivery process, which ensures that shoes are delivered within 2-3 working days after the order has been placed.
What’s more, they seeks to address the popular narrative that not everyone can afford genuine leather bespoke work. With as little as 8,000 Naira ($23), Onibata’s bespoke creations are affordable for a broad range of people. Other products cost between 18,000 Naira to 23,000 Naira.
Some of the biggest challenges the shoe makers face are availability of the different types of leather, logistics issues and a prompt delivery process. People tend to place orders for shoes within a day. This means the team often has to work overtime in order to meet up with such demands. They are constantly working to address these issues and offer customers the best service and products possible!