Babajide Ipaye, a Nigerian entrepreneur, has always been a sneaker fanatic. With a love for shoes and the goal to create a manufacturing sector for quality footwear in Nigeria, Ipaye created Keexs, an Africa-inspired brand with a social brief.
“We look at creating a style, a style basically is a unique pattern or design that has been created for the shoes,” Ipaye said. “In this case, what we have started with is this style, which I designed, whilst I was studying in the Netherlands and it formed like a canvas.”
He said the sneakers are produced in the Netherlands, where he studied innovative shoe production, but are designed at his office in Lagos.
Ipaye explained that he was able to raise $20,000 through crowd-funding, money that went into producing and launching his first collection.
“We’ve got about seven different products with this collection, but we’re basically showing five out of them at the moment” he said. “So, this one is called ‘Keexs Unity,’ it’s basically one finger and a fist. It’s basically Africa coming together to be one,” he said.
Keex has sold 1,500 pairs of sneakers so far. They are available online and in stores across Lagos for $59.
“Our customers are really appreciative of the brand basically because it’s an African brand, you know, and there’s nothing like it so far,” store manager Abimbola Oyatayo.
“If you ask me to compare, it’s fairly great for the sneakers I know,” customer Ogo Maduewesi said. “We don’t have … I don’t think we have any sneaker brand in Nigeria.”
Nigeria’s manufacturing sector is in a poor state, electricity and raw materials are scarce and expensive because there is a shortage of U.S. dollars.
Ipaye said he is looking to attract more investors to expand his business and fund his dream of building a manufacturing industry for quality shoes made in Nigeria.
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