MEET THE BOSS: Mathapelo Pitse shares how she’s positioning her luxury shoe business to pave the way for lasting wealth

It’s one thing to start and run a business, and quite another to strive to build a lasting legacy. J’adore D’amour founder Mathapelo Pitse chats to us about her plans to turn her four year-old luxury shoe business into a generational wealth building machine.

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FACT FILE 
  • Mathapelo Pitse was born & raised in Katlehong, Johannesburg
  • She attended Alston Primary School, and went on to complete her high school education at Waverley Girls High in Johannesburg.
  • Pitse made her first foray into business with a catering company, which she later sold to a friend.
  •  Although she started her shoe business by selling ready-made shoes, her passion has taken her on to designing herself what she describes as “trendy and timeless heels”. 
  • When Covid-19 hit in 2020, three years after starting J’adore D’Amour in 2017, she gathered the faith to quit her full-time job in September to focus fully on her footwear business.
  • When it comes to creative inspiration, Pitse has always had an eye for minimalistic designs, along with exotic textures and bright colours. This has resulted in the brand appealing to high-end ultra-feminine consumers who are audacious, classy, and fashion conscious.
  • The brand is fuelled by love, emphasising the importance of self-love for all the hard working women, hence J’adore D’amour (French), which means ‘I love love‘.
  • A passionate giver, Pitse has several charity courses that she supports, including the #1MillionSchoolShoes, an initiative she founded with one aim: ensuring that no child goes to school barefooted. Thus, with every pair of shoes purchased at J’adore D’Amour, she sponsors a disadvantaged child with a pair of school shoes.
  • She gets her inspiration and creativity when travelling, but most of all through her appreciation of the sensuality of a woman, she says. 
Meet The Boss: The journey so far!

For someone starting a business from scratch, it can be intimidating to watch established business men and women tout their accomplishments, when in reality we are told that only a fraction of businesses make it pass the first 1000 days, if not the first year of existence.

However, in Mathapelo Pitse’s case, it wasn’t so much the likelihood of failing that consumed her, given her extensive pool of knowledge in business development. Instead – and not withstanding the potential pitfalls of the entrepreneurial journey – she was already thinking beyond surviving the dreaded first three years of most startups – which she has – to building a business enterprise that would “stand in the gap of building generational wealth”.

Creating and sustaining a super-thriving business that would last for generations is all that was in her mind, she tells us.  

Analytical and very much a people-person, Pitse is the founder and chief executive of the proudly South African luxury online shoe business, J’adore D’amour.

Likewise, her strong research and strategic analysis skills, as well as the ability to build meaningful and lasting customer relationships, which were cultivated through her 13-year track record in corporate and luxury retail, came  in handy in the early days of her business.

CEO of J’adore D’amour Mathapelo Pitse wants to be remembered for paving the way for female excellence in the footwear industry.

The Katlehong-born and raised businesswoman, whose ability to genuinely exudes her brand has helped propelled her business to greater heights, says J’adore D’amour essentially embodies how she wants women to feel: fearless, self-empowered, all the while exuding sheer elegance and grace.

She chats to NOWinSA about her plans to turn her 4 year-old luxury shoe business into a generational wealth building machine.

A perfect pair of stilettos is a pair that makes a woman feel beautiful – something she can indulge in and feel happy to take a walk in. A pair that represents her personality, style, and confidence. A pair that has a little sparkle. I mean, why walk in ordinary shoes – Mathapelo Pitse

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NOWinSA/Meet The Boss exclusive: Mathapelo Pitse

How did you start your show business?

I would say it was a sheer coincidence. I was spring cleaning my house with my mother, and we were sorting out old things that I wanted to give away. As I opened my closet, I was overwhelmed by the large collection of shoes that owned (300 pairs to be specific) which brought me to my aha moment … the rest is history.

What does it take to create a successful lifestyle brand in SA?

Building a successful brand is not an overnight job. There are a lot of elements involved from brand conception to strategising, and executing all amazing ideas and delivering results. However, what I believe builds a brand into an envisaged success is consistently delivering great customer service. For any business to thrive, it goes beyond focusing on a product or service, to putting your customer’s needs first before anything else.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in the beginning of your business?

I’d say the biggest challenge I had was leaving my full time job to solely focus on my brand. I had to take that giant leap of faith, and trust my guts because I’ve always known that I would eventually venture into business. And looking into where my business is today, though it wasn’t an easy ride given the many challenges I faced such as lack of funding, which can even be harder without a tertiary education, I’d say leaving my job was a blessing in disguise.

All these experiences, I must say, have made me worked even harder. I learnt to rely on my passion and creativity to sell the vision to the masses no matter how small it seemed in the beginning.

J’adore D’amour designer shoe embodies sleek sophistication!

Why is it important for young, black millennials to enter the entrepreneurial arena?

It’s extremely important to have more young blacks occupying the entrepreneurial space to not help level the playing field, but to also build generational wealth. I strongly believe as businesses, we should look into focusing on the importance of leaving a legacy for generations to come, which is why I want to be remembered as a woman who paved the way for female excellence in the footwear industry.

I want to disrupt the A-code of what a traditional entrepreneur is supposed to be, especially when it comes to the concept of creating generational wealth. In my case, it’s about being a pioneer who despite not having things handed to on a silver platter, was not afraid to take heard on more established international brands, and build from there, “one stiletto at a time”.

What’ s your take on South Africans supporting local brands?

I think we’re slowly getting there. A lot of South Africans are still loyal to certain international brands and franchises. So I believe it’s our responsibility as proudly South African brands to focus not only on creating generate brand awareness around our products amongst our people, but also put more emphasis on the quality of products and services we offer.  

Any advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just go for it! It starts with an idea, no matter how big or small it may be. Its success will be determined by the belief in yourself, dedication and determination.

What are some of the misconceptions you had about being in business which took you by surprise?

There are a couple of things I learnt:

▪️One, is that it is best to create demand before rolling out your product or business, so you do not waste time and money trying to do exactly that while your product is sitting there for month not selling.

▪️Another, is that the consumer determines the product demand. So before you invest in a product, you need to do extensive research such as creating a product prototype and testing the market to see if they will like it.

▪️And lastly, I learnt to practice patience. Remember Rome wasn’t built overnight, likewise it takes a long time for consumers to trust a brand and in turn make money from it. One does not become a millionaire overnight.

Mathapelo Pitse of J’adore D’amour, Picture: Instagram!

 

What are the qualities and traits one needs to build a successfull business?

I believe building a thriving business takes a lot of patience and dedication. Although it can be a challenge for entrepreneurs who go into business with unrealistic expectations in the beginning, expecting quick returns just months or a year into business, it was only after I started focusing fully in the business that I realise that patience in business is indeed a virtue. Also, one has to be open to criticism and make room for improvement in the process of their entrepreneurial journey.

How do you plan on being consistent as a fashion brand during an uncertain global pandemic (which continues to threaten factories that make fashion)?

One way to ensure we stay consistent is through partnerships. We do so by collaborating with other classy brands which align with what we represents as a brand (early this year, the company was invited to showcase its collection at the AFI concept store House Of Nala and Africa Rise, owned by renowned SA designer Thula Sindi).

Other than that, our duty as brand is to ensure we continue to produce timeless, fashion forward footwear.

Any achievements you want to share with us?

Hahaha! I don’t have any – just experiences. Oh, I’ve met Oprah Winfrey if that counts!


*J’adore D’amour iconic collection is available at Zando, Takealot,the House of Nala concept store at Sandton City and the official www.jadoredamour.com website.