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Luxury shoemaker sets sights on reigniting SA manufacturing.

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Mathapelo Pitse, a self-taught luxury shoe designer, has followed her passion for footwear out of the corporate world and into luxury shoe production.

Pitse, the founder and CEO of J’adore D’amour, is one of an increasing number of South African designers making waves in the industry, including Thebe Magugu, whose creations were worn by Issa Rae on her hit US television program Insecure, and sneaker designers Theo Baloyi and Lekau Sehoana.

“I’ve always known [since] I was young, that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was just never too sure what I wanted to do,” says Pitse, settling down on her suede sofa, after unloading boxes of shoes on her kitchen counter.

“I’ve always known [since] I was young, that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was just never too sure what I wanted to do,” says Pitse, settling down on her suede sofa, after unloading boxes of shoes on her kitchen counter.

A pair of white sandals with a long, slender gold heel are on her feet. The six-figure boss adds that the sneaker is a prototype that she is putting through its paces to ensure its quality and longevity.

Her path to starting her own shoe business has been long and winding, taking her from corporate to a home office in her Midrand flat.

After matric, the 34-year-old Boksburg, Gauteng native started working as a receptionist and administrator. She worked her way up the corporate ladder till she was a personal assistant (PA) for a few firms.

But the need to create a business persisted, and she opened Chilli Pepper Bar in the United States, serving Mexican burritos, which she had fell in love with while au pairing.

However, she quickly realized that the food industry was not for her, so she sold Chilli Pepper Bar to a friend and went into the fashion industry. Pitse was interested in starting a swimsuit line, but it was not the right match for him.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah