Meet Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro, a self-taught cobbler
A local shoemaker from the small village of Ga-Nchabeleng in Limpopo, Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro, 33, is aiming to make his mark on an international platform.
Lekgoro, the founder and director of Tlotlego Handcrafts is a self-taught cobbler who manufactures genuine leather shoes, leather belts, earrings, and wooden leather bags.
Tlotlego Handcrafts was established in 2016 for the purpose of alleviating poverty through job creation and skills development.
“Shoes are a necessity. Everyone needs shoes and I realised that in South Africa, there are a few people who make formal shoes. I saw the gap in the market and seized the opportunity,” said Lekgoro.
Formal shoes by Ike Majadihlogo Lekgoro. Picture: Supplied
“I also realised that starting a shoe-making business would have a positive impact on job creation as unemployment is still a major issue in our country, especially among the youth.” He caters to both men and women but still experiences challenges when it comes to manufacturing women’s shoes.
Tlotlego Handcrafts also makes handbags. Picture: Supplied
“Due to the challenges faced, we’re only making shoes for men but our primary goal is to cater to both. What’s hindering us from making ladies’ shoes is that we don’t have all the necessary equipment. However, we do make unisex sandals, belts, handbags and wallets,” he explained.
His ultimate goal is to take his craft to big retailers.
“The challenge that we have is that we need machinery and then we’ll be able to make at least 10 pairs a day since there’s only two of us working on the brand,” said Lekgoro. From humble beginnings, Lekgoro has gone on to showcase his craft at different exhibitions that include Sanlam, Sarcda Trade Exhibitions, as well as Decorex.
“I have exhibited at Decorex twice already and it was such an amazing experience because I met other cobblers from Italy who inspired me a lot. I learnt a lot from them because seeing how good their craft is also motivated me to up my game and work harder,” added Lekgoro.
Stylish sandals by Tlotlego Handcrafts. Picture: Supplied
Speaking of Italy, the talented Lekgoro has been granted an opportunity to study for a year at one of the leading shoemaking schools in Milano called Arsutoria but he needs financial assistance to pay fees.
Lekgoro also wants to open a warehouse where he’ll employ young people and produce shoes, including school shoes.
“Our long-term goal is to expand to a manufacturing factory which will be fractioned into two main enterprises. One enterprise will be mainly for hand-crafted shoes, the other one will deal with manufacturing of school shoes using industrial machinery.
“Our aim is to manufacture affordable quality school shoes that will fit and match the pockets of all individuals regardless of their class,” he said.