Learning from Sole Rebels
The Majority World is full of creativity and here is another example. Founded by Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu in Addis Ababa the company uses highly skilled local artisans to make over eight hundred pairs of shoes a day. Thanks to deals with Amazon.com and a very good e-commerce website they can market the shoes all over the world. In one of her interviews Bethlehem discusses the problem of a local shoe industry being swamped by cheaply produced Chinese footwear. Her response: Export high quality craft. She has been on the BBC and spoken from the stage at the World Economic Forum. This is great validation for her entrepreneurialism but the bigger story is how sophisticated her company is in understanding its brand narrative. The combination of fair trade, authentic provenance and Ethiopian energy makes for a compelling brand presentation. Take a look at Sole Rebels first retail outlet in Addis Ababa:
Imagine an American brand retailing in as fun a manner as this? It could be done but the difference is that Sole Rebels has an authentic passion for what the company is doing. It is not pretesting its graphic design, doing a Millward Brown Link test or hoping to influence Interbrands ranking of global brands.
Marketing is an art form informed by good business information and here at Sole Rebels you can see the evidence. As Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu says: “We start out small and when demand grows we build a new facility and hire more workers”. The CEO is the marketer (Apple was the same) and she knows exactly how she wants to build the reputation of her company.
Here Bethlehem talks about Sole Rebels history and how she views her business:
African creativity is becoming a greater influence in the global economy. The studio ordered two pairs of shoes from Sole Rebels website, we will report on the product in a later post.