Shoes that support
Shoes that help a community, celebrate African culture, and oppose fast-fashion – yes, please! We chat to the remarkable woman behind the blossoming Kitu Kali shoes, Julie Munyi.
Q. Why did you start Kitu Kali shoes?
After growing up in a struggling environment, I pursued a career teaching at public schools in poor areas. I did this for 10 years, and got tired of the same life, same payslip and little career progression. So, I decided to venture into selling African curios (bric-a-brac), sharing a store space with a friend. I got approached by an individual who was selling Ankara shoes (Ankara is an African cotton) and started to stock them at my shop.
The shoes became very popular, but a lot of customers returned them complaining about discomfort and poor quality. I decided I would venture into making Ankara shoes myself, using different African fabrics, with a focus on creating high-quality products.
Q. How do the shoes support communities in Kibera?
Our workshop is based in the Kibera District, which is one of the poorest regions in Africa. We only employ craftsmen who live in the area, and we pay our workers double the average pay rate of that location. Following our recent successful Kickstarter campaign, we will be using the money to increase our workshop space and employ more craftsmen, as well as to provide a healthcare plan for our employees and their families.
Moreover, we do not cut out the middleman when sourcing for the African fabrics we use to make the shoes. We source them from different markets all around Nairobi to ensure we’re impacting on different small businesses, whilst making sure we’re finding the most unique styles!
Q. What’s next for Kitu Kali?
We’re hoping to expand our Africa business to regions beyond Kenya, and employ even more craftsmen from different communities in East Africa. We are going to start with expanding into Tanzania and Uganda.
We are looking to undertake some strategic planning activities for 2019, and will be working to scale the business within Europe, US and Australia. I also want to explore different regions of Africa to find even more exceptional materials and fabrics to use for our shoes.
For more from Kitu Kali, head to their website.