Friday, April 4, 2014

Heel The World- why our stuff are so 'dear'

After watching the CNN interview it occurred to me that I did not justify the price of our shoes properly and that others might also struggle to defend/understand the price so I have come up with the official answer for the price.

Handmade, bespoke from Africa
Acquired taste

Economics-Things are called expensive when someone doesn't have he resources for it. If it is financial reasons then we pray people get better-paying jobs to afford our products. We all deserve the finest things in life.

Perception/value- Money in itself has no value, it is just the means by which we put a number to qualify how much we really care for a product or service. People who think that because it is from Ghana means it should be cheaper are implying that Ghanaians are not good enough or capable of competing on a world-class basis. This is discriminatory if coming from an outsider, but even more blasphemous if coming from a Ghanaian.

Handmade and bespoke from Africa- In an ever-changing world where people use microwaves to cook because of a lack of time, we should be ever so grateful that these seasoned craftsmen take their time to create these custom-tailored masterpieces by hand to suit one individual's innermost desires. Every single hole, stitch, crease..all 250 steps to make a shoe...done by hand. Despite all the 'challenges' of being in Africa, look at the masterpiece in front of you. 

Acquired taste - Take a look at the products again. Are they beautifully designed? Are they well crafted? Not everyone understands or appreciates art, and we don't expect them to. You either appreciate world-class craftsmanship from Africa, or you don't. Some people are also late bloomers/take a while to buy-in and that's fine.
We just hope that by the time they have caught up, we will still be in reach.

'HTW's price is dear because it is dear to those who make it, and to those who buy it,'- VR

Rise. Step forward. And Heel The World.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

used shoes, the devalued cedi and Heel The World

This is a response I made to Eyram a young Ghanaian in Tufts university who saw a box with a label 'Africa needs your gently used shoes'

Hi Eyram,
 Saw your post earlier and nodded my head in agreement. I also read your email twice..because before attempting to help/answer you I wanted to digest the gravity of the question

First and foremost I hate to disappoint you but I don't have the statistics for you.. what I have for you is my story
A long Time ago I bought a pair of handmade Italian shoes in osu . I asked a wandering shoeshine boy if he could make a pair and he said it was impossible. I was a little saddened but even more saddened when my colleagues etc thought otherwise

A few weeks in I was walking around my neighbourhood when an airplane flew over
This is when I asked myself, if we cannot make shoes here when are we going to make planes?

In a nutshell the problem was not the shoemakers, the problem was the mindset..We like to say we are a conservative people but in truth we are a scared people

We are scared to make mistakes because we deem them as failures and such will not try anything different..For years we have been handed things down by foreigners and continuously import from them

So when there is a world crisis.. in Europe or the USA it affects us because we buy from then in foreign currency and so as their economy weakens things become more expensive and since we are heavily dependent on foreign nations with their increasing prices we also need to spend more cedis to get the same product

And there lies the issue with the falling value of the cedi

The cedi is devalued because we devalue ourselves

Money after all is a reflection of value

We do not respect what we do as Ghanaians and as such our products are priced accordingly

Heel The World was set up to create a world class brand with world class products meant for people with the finest taste in the world

When the dollar rises, we need to produce more in house and actually be export oriented like Heel The World because it is only when we face our fears that we will overcome the current economic conundrum we are in.

Africa does not need anybodies gently used shoes, we need the best shoes in the world. We need to make them ourselves

This is not an infomercial for Heel The World by the way..It is a justification of our existence

Have an awesome day..I hope this helped

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's day

Wrote this a few years ago.message is still the same...

Mama loved me pops left me….those are the only lyrics I remember off Jay’s song… 
Today…of all days it seems most appropriate 

Honey I’m pregnant.. 
Talk talk talk… 
Buying pampers..buying the crib…buying baby food 
Visits to the hospital…convulsions… 
Back pain..breast pain..abdominal pain 
Big belly..stretch marks…constant hunger 
Cause feeding two people at once 
Complications at the hospital 
‘he might not make’s gonna be him or his mom’ 
‘then let him live..’she says without hesitation 
Ignoring my dads helpless puppy eyes 
Push push push 
She’s screaming 
I’m kicking in her belly 
I’m screaming too… 
Caesarean it is..cause I’m too big 
I’m too big cause she overfed me… 
She overfed me cause she overloved me….. 
I come out…months later I am outdoored 
And baptized… 
Apple sauce…breast milk…vitamins…the best baby food possible at my disposal 
She cleaned my ass…rocked me to sleep 
And sucked the mucus out of my nose when it was blocked and I couldn’t breathe 
Years on …she took me to school…the best she could find 
At the same time she took me to church..the best she could find 
Then she got me clothes..the best she could afford 
Then she prayed for me day and night 
Like that Kid Cudi track 
Day and night 
She thought for me and about me 
Then when I got big enough to blow my own nose 
Wipe my own ass 
Tie my own shoelaces 
And cook my own food 
I turned around and threw everything she gave me out the window 
I said..’I’m a grown ass man’ 
So easily forgetting that I am not amoeba and did not reproduce myself… 
Arguing with her over the littlest thing 
Picking my friends over her 
Calling her old old hag 

Pause pause pause.. 
It sounds terrible the things I say right?? 
Some of u think I would never do this to my mom 
I gently remind you that there are two different types of sins 
The sin of commission..which is when u blatantly tell her to piss off 
And the sin of omission…when you hear her crying…see the pain in her eyes… 
And then walk away like nothing ever happened 
When Boys 2 men be playing you be singing ‘mommma I love u’ cause u know the words 
…forgetting that love is an ACTION verb..not a passive verb 
Talk is cheap… 
Momma im sorry for everything I ever did… 
I know you only want the best and gave me the best you could 
So many jobs ..chances to kick it with your new men..u turned em all down 
Cause u loved me.. 
Momma I’m sorry 
As of today..everyday is mother’s day 

Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; so that it may go well for you, and that you may have a long life on the earth 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Everything is where it is supposed to be.

I often look back at the first 22 years of my life with a tinge of regret. I ask myself..what was I doing? Dang it! Like I woke up..went to etc..followed societal norms of a teenager etc but what was I doing? I don’t dwell too hard on it because I do not have many remarkable stories to tell from that era. Well there was that one time I was 16 and got into an altercation with a police officer at a school party…he was searching everybody for a stolen camera and I thought he was searching a bit too…’passionatley’ and I shoved him out of the way…5 fingers have not met a face so fast…basically he slapped me…At the time I lost it and …sigh..

Now I think about it I wonder what a foolish, obnoxious kid I was..I think about how I disrespected this man..who was probably a husband, a father, a hustler..a dude tryna pay his bills…sigh
Even now as I approach 30 I look back in recent years and wonder what was I doing when I was working in the corporate world. What was I really doing? Hmm…it kind of saddens me but this morning I spoke to Papa Tumi and I felt a little better. Papa is a decade younger than me..almost..but I am shy to call him my little brother.  He is smaller in build, and younger but that would demean him. To me, Papa is well on his way to making a significant difference in the world, whichever industry he finds himself in. Ramzi Yamusah is another guy…another guy altogether. Whenever I meet up with them it is refreshing to know that there are some people who care enough about the state of things, and are pacing themselves at this fundamental stage to change the way things are done in the world. These boys are not my ‘little brothers’ or ‘nephews’ (Snoop Dogg accent)

Papa told me it was ok to be where I am now..that I am supposed to be there..infact Papa said ‘ The person who has a false start runs harder than those ahead of him,’

I interpreted my current situation as a one that ‘enabled me to relate to the niggas on the street..and the suits on wall street,’

Wherever you are is wherever you are supposed to be. Make the most out of it.

Shout out to my classmates who were ahead of their time mentally…Seiwaa Opare , Nana Menya, Mo Fattal, Dr. Kaku Kermah, Dr. Naomi Adjepong

Shout out to all young future leaders Papa, Ramzi ,Sangu ,John Armah wherever you are.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Now is the future

Which of these two pictures do you prefer?
A middle aged guy, grey double breasted suit, Rolex watch, chauffeur driven in a Maybach


scrawny kid in white shirt, bumbling briefcase filled with papers in a hoopty( bang up car/lapaz toyota?)

the first...obviously..but what if I told you they were the same person..just in different times.

For the past 3/4 times I have been invited somewhere focused on youth..entrepreneurship..leadership..i keep running into the same crowd...people 22-35 doing different things but doing the same thing. couldn't be any more different. It is funny my associations have changed as my focus has also changed. When I worked in a bank i couldn't wait for the day to end at 5 for me to exhaust the 'happy' in happy hour or play video games at a friends place from 6 pm to 6 am on a Friday night. It was just a few years ago..just a few friends ago..but after going for a program with my dad last weekend I realized that now is the future.

While sitting at the table with him a few dignitaries  CEOs..managers etc all came around to say hi and he did the same thing. When we watched the presidential court case on TV last week he spoke about several of the people on a first name basis. It occurred to me that regardless of your line of work, the African proverb ' Monkeys play in sizes' stands true. What we don't see often, what we that they all start somewhere. ..At the time I was born my dad wasn't at the hospital- he was in between one of his 3 day time jobs ( swimming pool cleaner, mason and chaplin at a hospital)..when he was 28 and got married he was 154 pounds and the ring he bought my mom made her hand green after 3 weeks. His best friend weighed 168 even though he is 4 inches taller than my dad. My dad is now someone 'decent' in society and his friend is the  head of the Ghana Bar Association-aka head lawyer in chief.

CEOs meet CEOs..and janitors meet janitors..that is on the surface...and that is if we apply the laws of extrapolation to our daily lives. However there is one thing that can shatter the concept or set path- ambition. Ambition is the one thing that can propel a janitor to walk up to the CEO of a firm to ask him, ' I want to be like you when I grow up,'

Considering most of us fall within the 'youth' category let us presume that we will all be successful in 30 years. Hard work, dedication..focus,the grace of God and a little help from the malthusian theory ..blah blah should make us successful...but a large part of where we will be ..who we will call..are the people who are on our speedial right NOW..

because NOW is the future.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chairman oh Chairman

It has been about 2 months since it happened. I can’t go into detail but my friend is in a place no man wishes to be. He was silly and made a silly mistake and everyday that passes his family and REAL friends wonder his fate. I have not been able to see him, or talk to him. But I think about him everyday and try and make sense of why he would do such a thing but I can’t wrap my head around it. I have nothing but fond memories of him..stubborn, outspoken, rude, some might even think he is a jerk…but he is MY jerk is blind..Stevie Wonder..
Anyways , I have been scrapping for information on his upkeep ever since the incident and have received scanty information..the most optimistic thing I have heard is , ‘he says he is ok and that you shouldn’t worry,’
That was until this morning I spoke to another family member of his. I told him , ‘ tell him to read, gym and pray HAAARD every single day’ The boy responds, ‘that is all he does’ I say ok. Then the boy adds, ‘he is even the football chairman there’
For the first time in 2 months I smiled because despite his unfortunate circumstance, being thrown into the deep..and I mean deep end of the pool..he still finds a way to brighten his do something he loves and be recognized/acknowledged/loved..maybe respected for it.
We out the free world..should not imprison ourselves to do anything less. Brighten your corner wherever you have something to offer..they might not pay you for it in cash..not now..but maybe in kind..for now..and the future..
Anything less than doing what you are destined to do is a disservice to yourself,God and mankind.

Lovely Monday folks

Saturday, April 6, 2013

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS:small talk for small star

I wrote this 2 years ago..and in the midst of people complaining about the 'light off' and 'heat' situation I thought I would re-echo my words..

tired of the excuses
tired of the subconscious racism
tired of settling for less
Ghana/Africa why we so poor when we so blessed
we complain about our jobs and our bosses
and drag our feet at work so company's making losses
why dont we say what we need to say when we need to say it
what we afraid of?why are we so afraid?
want to go to heaven but we don't want to die
 want to achieve and be wealthy but you dont want to work hard
iphone ipad ipod itouch
idont think he did that overnight
Steve Jobs is dead
but his Apple is alive..think about it
why dont we take a bite out of His apple like the logo
think different act different switch up the flow yo
want to serve the nation but dont want to do national service
because u study engineering in Tech and end up customer service in a bank..thats a disservice
so then we want to go to school in 'yankey'or 'london' and then work there and get the dollars and drive the nice foreign whips
and complain about how hot and crappy the country is..
who is supposed to fix it?
not the old folks? the politicians? the pastors? the expatriates?the kenkey seller?
if not WE then who?
if not YOU then who?
if not ME then who?
Fuming right now at how 'we' think..because it guides how we act
always want handouts from the Americans or sign 3 billion dollar loan deals with Chinese
do you know even if we pay these people back with interest we STILL owe them?
oil in OUR country but we about to give it away...
Lebanese and Indians in they are not wicked ruthless how well they treat eachother and treat their families...
but they understand that work is work and have deeeeep consumer insight on the Ghanaians attitude to they keep their workers on a tight leash because we take advantage of friendship and kindness and cripple our own businesses...
how many times have you heard of money/business spoiling friendship amongst our people? we do not respect hard work and do not understand that providing a product or a service is the easy part, but building a brand-a positive mental perception-a name is something else.
What the heck does the average Ghanaian care about a brand for? where is your pride? all we think about is where the money at? 
taxi driver asks you to please get out his cab so he can pick up the white dude across the street 
all we do is consume..or at best do our 'fitters'
 mechanic for 30 years and you have never tried to create 1 car?
because it is is dont have money
everyday...'it is in God's hands'
all night ..praise and worship..morning devotion..speaking in tongues..
God can hear you...but are you listening to Him?
He gave us dominion over the earth...and free will...
small talk for small minds
Everyday saying 'i love ghana i love ghana' when the black stars score a goal
do you know how hard you have to work to be a Black Star?
do you know you are a Black Star?
and by the way do you know the meaning of LOVE?
it means means means sweat...
what are you sweating for?
when you wake up and put on that tie you hate to get to work..what are you sweating for?
money? if money then be a mercenary it pays well
if impact then be a Black Star..and shine wherever you are
a cedi  in my pocket ..a dream in my in my heart..and time( aka youth aka energy ) on my side
independent since 1957..on paper..
but we are STILL dependent ..mentally and on paper
Freeedom Freeeedom Freeedom..thats what Kwame Nkrumah fought for..and what did we do with it??
2011 Ghana..wake the f*^k up...
because you are being buried alive at the moment