The Bathu story is more than just a story of Sneakers. It’s a story of owning your destiny, of staying true to who you are, of perseverance, of following your dreams and doing something you are passionate about.
It’s a story of walking your journey.
Our founder, Theo Baloyi’s story is one worth hearing as it motivates you to work hard and believe in yourself throughout all the obstacles and challenges that you may encounter.
The early days of Bathu
In 2009, Theo relocated to Johannesburg to stay with his uncle in Alexandra while studying towards his BCom Accounting degree. Amid all the challenges, Theo had a goal to walk his journey and make it work, so he continued his studies and eventually graduated as an accountant.
As a qualified Accountant, Theo was presented with the opportunity of working at one of the top accounting and advisory firms in the world. Based in South Africa for 2 years, and later seconded to the Middle East for 3 years, it was during this period that the idea for his business came to him.
In his travels he noticed that there was something missing – an African Sneaker brand, portraying an authentic African story. So he got to work.
In 2015, after months of conceptualizing, feasibility studies and being rejected by 13 different factories, the Mesh Edition Sneaker was born.
Once in production, and having dealt with the rigorous 18 month processes of design, production, quality assurance and financing related to the Mesh Edition, Theo founded the business – Bathu – meaning shoes in Kasi slang – and launched 100 pairs of Mesh Edition to the people of Alexandra, Soweto, Midrand and Thembisa.
The launch went incredibly well and the first 100 pairs of Mesh Edition were sold out quickly. Then in 2016 Bathu released 400 pairs of Mesh Edition which created pandemonium. So big was the release, that the Bathu website crashed 4 hours after the announcement and customers were clambering over each other to get their hands on a pair.
In 2017, Bathu sealed it’s first corporate collaboration with an incubation hub in
Johannesburg which led to the release of a further 1000 pairs of Mesh Edition sneakers. In that same year Bathu launched it’s first limited edition Mesh Edition Sneakers in White, which sold out in days.
Bathu then bought it’s first delivery vehicle and opened it’s first store in Newtown, Jozi in 2018. The Newtown store was quickly followed by a second store in the heart of Pretoria, which later relaunched in a bigger space, providing customers with increased capacity and an innovative shopping experience.
From there, demand grew and Bathu has since opened up additional stores in Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Thohoyandou, Polokwane & Rustenburg where the responses have been nothing short of incredible.
The Future for Bathu
As part of our vision 2020, Bathu plans to open 7 more stores around Mzansi.
Both Theo & Bathu pride themselves on creating an African footprint across the
globe, and there are even plans to position the brand across Africa with more retail store openings starting with Botswana in 2021.
More recently, in January 2020, Bathu acquired a 3700sqm warehouse in Centurion which will house the current staff base of 68 people, (80% of whom are from Alexandra). This figure is expected to rise to 100 people by June 2020 to help combat the disastrous local unemployment figures by creating jobs and reigniting hope to families and individuals. Bathu hopes to achieve this target by continuing to use an end to end value chain approach encompassing a business model that maintains it’s own vertical through direct production, sales, distribution and logistics.
Bathu now offers a range of sneakers and related products for children and adults, from the standard Mesh Edition, to the Mesh Edition 2.0, Journey Edition Suede, and the Journey Edition Leather, with more to come.
Through his journey and in recognition of their successes Theo & Bathu have been awarded the following accolades:
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 – South African Business Premier Awards.
- Forbes Africa 30 under 30 – 2019.
- Emerging Business – Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 – Sanlam & Business Partners.
- Fastest Growing Business Brand 2019 (Finalist) – National Business Awards
- Young Executive of the Year 2019 (Finalist) – National Business Awards
- SME Award 2019 (Finalist) – Vision 2030 Awards
- 2019 Most influential Young South African in Business – Avance Media
- Young Entrepreneur Of the Year – Gauteng Premier Service Excellence Awards
- BBQ Awards – Ndlovu Jewellery Transformation Champion of the Year Award 2020
- BBQ Awards – Hennessy XO Businessman of the Year Award 2020
- Top Empowerment Awards 2020 – Top Empowered Young Achiever of the Year.
Bathu has also collaborated with iconic brands like OPEL, Forbes Africa, Sprite, ABInbev (Castle Lite) among others and we are hopeful of making meaningful connections with other brands in the near future.