This year’s installment of the Sneaker Expo symposium sought to bring inspiring ideas and stories to those who have built careers within the creative industry with the aim of cultivating aspiring entrepreneurs.
Hosted this past weekend in Gaborone at Mogobe Plaza, the expo attracted speakers with success stories in the branding, marketing, public relations, merchandising, design and film fields. The purpose of the event was not only to share Botswana’s sneaker culture, but also to explore opportunities around creating brands that are sustainable.
The founder of Urban Soul Apparel and The Sneaker Expo concept, Molefi Nkwete shared that he started the expo in 2015 because he discovered that many people knew sneaker brands but did not understand the history behind the shoes. “People always ask why the expo involves people from different fields but they need to understand that sneakers cannot succeed without models, branding, pr and marketing. For example when Rihanna partnered with Puma to create a line about 3 years ago, the brand was struggling. But the first year after collaborating with her, Puma sales went up by 35%. So when we have influencers in our midst it is an honour,” Nkwete said, adding that the expo will continue to grow as they will keep investing in it with the little resources they have.
Marang Molosiwa who is a vibrant creative with a background in television, a qualified drama and film practitioner, live performance lecturer and media entrepreneur was one of the speakers who participated in the various panels discussions held on the day. With 16 years experience in the media space she has been able to transition from teen celebrity to social media influencer whose brand is built on authenticity. She mostly does a lot of youth and community work and runs an organization called Minds For Tomorrow, which is an association that mobilizes young adults.
“I usually make it clear that I am anything but a social media influencer. I don’t plan my content but I am sitting on about 27 000 followers. It comes down to just being honest about the work you put out and leave it to the people to decide if they want to follow you. Brand building is being clear about who you are and remember you are always a representation of your brand outside social media. But also humility will take you far,” she said.
For his part, guest speaker, Tino Chinyani who is a South African based ETV morning show presenter, model, actor and athlete shared his story of how he managed to penetrate the highly competitive SA market. From humble beginnings in Zimbabwe, Chinyani said being in the spotlight was never the plan but he continued to explore different avenues, which he continuously excelled at. Giving his advice on brand building, he said it was important to build a portfolio that includes previous work to continuously attract more work.
“It’s also about what you can do for the brand because my perspective has always been that I can grow their audience in Zimbabwe because there is an entire market there they are not tapping into. Show them what you can bring to the table and they will be willing to listen. A lot of these brands have their contact details online and their marketing personnel attend events. That is where you can also approach them,” he said.