How to start a shoe business in South Africa

A lot of proudly South African shoe brands are popping all over the country. This is a guide on how to start a shoe business in South Africa.


Starting a shoe business can be a daunting task and other people still see it as something that is near impossible in South Africa. The reality is that starting a shoe business is not as hard as it looks this is a business that can be started by anyone.

We have seen a rise in shoe brands that are manufactured in South Africa within the past few years. Shoe brands that are manufactured by black entrepreneurs, in particular, have gained a lot of media attention.

This means that there is a huge market for locally made shoes in South Africa, this comes at a time when most people are choosing to buy local brands instead of international ones. The barriers to entry are not that high, they are fairly low if you know which resources to use.

Come up with a brand concept

The first thing you have to do is to come up with a brand name and concept, what’s going to make your shoe different? At this point, you should come up with the design, look, and feel of your shoes. Use a designing tool to design your shoes then get feedback from some people you trust.

This is also the point where you should come up with the name of your shoe brand. Choose a name that is easy to pronounce and should preferably be only one word (Nike, Adidas, Puma). It doesn’t matter whether it’s a sneaker or a heel.

Register your business

At this point, you should register your business as a private company, which currently costs R125. This is because someone might steal your idea and register your company name before you do then try to sue you for copyright.

You first have to check if the company name that you want is not already taken by someone else. This is something you can do directly from the CIPC website, they will ask you to insert 4 names just in case the other is already taken.

Another thing you should do at this stage is to get a trademark, a trademark makes it that much harder for people to copy your brand.

Manufacture the shoes

There are a lot of ways in which you can go about this, first, you can buy plain shoes from China and just stick your brand name on them. This is something that is similar to buying a plain T-shirt and simply printing your logo on it.

There are actually South African brands that do this, you can buy plain shoes from AliExpress and just redesign them a bit and resell them at a premium price. The main disadvantage of this is that you don’t have any control over your business.

Another option, which is probably what you should do if you want to gain credibility is to manufacture the shoe yourself. This means that you will come up with the design then manufacture the shoe. The best way you can go about doing this is through shoe manufacture. Shoe manufacturing companies use their machinery and resources to manufacture custom shoes for other brands or people.

Choose a selling platform

Renting a storefront can be quite expensive when you are just starting out. Alternative options include selling online or through retailers. There is little to no chance of getting big retailers to sell your products when you are just starting out.

That leaves you with two main options, selling online or renting a store. You can also do both of these. They both have advantages and disadvantages, renting a storefront is expensive and will account for a huge chunk of your overhead costs.

Selling online is way cheaper but will require you to spend a lot more money on marketing in order to drive traffic to your website. A hybrid approach of both methods often yields the best results.

Market your shoe business

Digital and influencer marketing often work best for this business. Invest some money in getting influencers to promote your shoes, top influencers can be very expensive, target smaller fashion influencers with a high engagement.

Digital ads like Facebook and Google Ads are the best when it comes to promoting a business, especially an online store.


This was a guide on how to start a shoe business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

Wrapping up

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