Footwear is one of the basic needs for every human and because of the necessity attached to it across the globe, makers of footwear continue to expand and improve on their brands for profitability. In Nigeria wearing smart and trendy shoes has become a fashion statement for all ages.
For shoemakers in the country, producing shoes requires hard work, skill, effort, and creativity but in the end, it is a very rewarding venture.
This week on our founder profile, we look at Jide Ipaye, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Keexs, the first innovative and social oriented footwear brand in Africa which was birthed in 2015.
Jide is a young man who brings exciting designs to shoes and has shown great commitment to adding soul to sneakers.
Jide was born in Lagos as the only child of his parents whom he lost at the tender age of 11. Being a young orphan, he was raised by relatives.
He holds a B.Sc in Microbiology from the University of Lagos. In the course of his professional career, he has worked with various multinationals such as Guinness, Total and some tech startups. He also has over 14 years of experience in IT and Strategy.
Origin of Keexs
The name Keexs originates from two words: KICKS, which is an urban slang for casual footwear, and shoes with rubber related soles, especially sneakers, and KEEK which means to peep surreptitiously.
Having large feet, Jide struggled to find shoes that fit, especially in the styles that he wanted. It occurred to him in 2015 that rather than resign himself to this limitation, he could just make his own shoes! Once the idea caught, he went a step further, why not make urban footwear for Africans?
After arriving at the decision to make shoes, he also recognized the importance of acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to do so. He subsequently traveled to the Netherlands where he attended SLEM, an international innovation and training institute for footwear and leather industries, where he learned how to make sneakers from scratch.
Jide sees Keexs as a vehicle for creating an impact in the society, rather than as just a means of livelihood and he regularly gives back part of his profit to sustainable community development projects. One of such is a partnership program with an NGO to provide kids in Ajegunle with footwear and other training that will make them better individuals. The gratification for Jide is the joy he gets from knowing that people now wear his ideas.
How he funded his startup
Jide teamed up with a friend, Moyosore Olowo, to raise funds for this new venture, through a global online crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, where he raised enough money to help him bring the project to life.
However, he lamented about some of the challenges faced at the initial stage which include taking the idea from concept to product, raising the capital required through crowdfunding and eventually attempting to distribute these new products into the market.
Plans for the future
The Keexs brand has retail stores across popular malls in Lagos and it has also secured the services of popular influencers to help promote the brand which has recorded a huge success.
Following its recognition, KEEXS has been featured on numerous platforms such as Origin Africa (Madagascar), The African Fashion Week Nigeria, Heineken Lagos Fashion Week, Thomson Reuters, eNCA news, TV5Monde, Ebony Life TV, South African Fashion Week and CNN African Voices.
According to Jide, his plans are to make the Keexs brand dominant within and outside the shores of Nigeria.