- Tshepiso Monamodi founded Oratile Kids, a South African children's shoe brand that makes soft leather shoes for toddlers.
- Monamodi started the business in 2017 when she was looking for the same shoes for her son, and could only find very expensive ones.
- With just one sewing machine – which she didn't know how to operate – Monamodi learnt how to make the shoes and sold them in markets.
- Today she supplies three Clicks Baby stores and has seen a 34% increase in sales since working with the retailer.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInisder.co.za.
Local entrepreneur and founder of Oratile Kids, Tshepiso Monamodi, started her soft leather shoe business with just one sewing machine – which she did not know how to operate – today, she supplies soft leather shoes for toddlers to Clicks.
It all started in 2017 when Monamodi was looking for a particular pair of leather shoes for her toddler, the type Monamodi had worn when she was a baby, as her aunt told her.
"I was looking for a specific type of shoe for my son. My aunt wanted a specific shoe and we kept going around in circles.
"She described them as the leather soft ones that are very comfortable for babies, and they don't really interfere with babies' development when they learn how to walk," said Monamodi.
Monamodi finally found someone who sold the shoes, but they were quite pricy.
"When I finally found the shoes that she was talking about, they were expensive, and I thought I can't spend over R300 for a single pair of shoes," she said.
This is when the entrepreneur got the idea of maybe making a pair for her son, but the problem was that she could not sew at all.
"I thought let me try, but I couldn't sew, so I started researching and realised that this is doable, but I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing, I wanted to be authentic," Monamodi told Business Insider South Africa.
After making a pair for her son, other people took notice and also wanted the same for their children, and Monamodi, who wasn't employed at the time, responded to the demand.
She took her shoes to a few local markets and malls and gained more customers, especially fathers who wanted soft leather shoes for their kids.
"The more I got into it, the more I fell in love, and I thought that this has the potential to become bigger than just shoes for my son. A couple of years later, it's really picking up," said an emotional Monamodi.
While selling in markets and other smaller establishments for three years, Monamodi says she has learnt a lot about her customers and what their babies' needs truly are.
This has made it easy for her to tailor each and every pair of shoes according to her customers' needs, something which is near impossible when simply buying from a big retailor.
Like many other businesses, the lockdown affected Monamodi's business, and she had no choice but to operate on social media.
Although this felt like a stumbling block for her business, Monamodi didn't realise that this was where one of the biggest retailers in South Africa would spot her work.
"I think Clicks saw me on social media. They sent me a message, I verified that it was indeed them and then we started discussions.
"They had started opening Clicks standalone baby stores and wanted my brand to be part of that," she told Business Insider.
Having supplied for three Clicks baby stores since 2021, Oratile Kids has seen a 34% increase in sales, all while working in a garage.
"They have really held my hand through this," Monamodi said. "Remember, I knew nothing about retail. They've helped us to be more consistent in terms of the products that we're delivering. They also want to help us enhance our offering."
According to Monamodi, the business partners have started talks about an enterprise development plan, where Clicks will be helping the small business to get factory space, more machinery and also to increase the number of stores that Oratile Kids is currently in. "It's really exciting – good things are coming," said Monamodi.
Oratile Kids range is available at Clicks Baby stores from R190, and can also be found nationwide on clicks.co.za.