In a world filled with fast fashion and disposable products, it is refreshing to come across small businesses that are dedicated to restoring and preserving the quality of cherished items. One such business is the ‘Shoeguru Laundry Zimbabwe’, a hidden gem that specializes in giving your worn-out footwear a new lease on life.
In this article, we explore the importance of shoe care, the art of shoe cleaning services offered by Shoeguru Laundry Zimbabwe, and the positive impact of small businesses in the community through Shoeguru.
I had the honour of meeting the founder of Shoeguru Laundry Zimbabwe, Brighten Tipi, for an interview; during which l had the special opportunity to put forth questions to him as regards his business — a wonderful interactive process in which l got insightful answers back.
Coming from a long line of business-minded family and relatives starting, a business was more of an extension of being a Tipi for him. As for being the brainchild of the specific shoe cleaning business, there is a lot to be said about [some] fathers and their ability to leave us with long-lasting lessons.
On paper, it’s turning three years since Shoeguru was started but officially it’s been four years since it graced us with its presence in our lives.
In these three years, but technically four, l asked Brighten when he felt that this was it, the moment where and when he felt settled enough in what he had started to be confident in its capabilities.
His preceding answer was: It was only in 2019 when he had realised how much of an untapped market it was.
Yes, we all grew up with corner shoe vendors where you would leave your shoes and come collect them at a later time. But this is massively different.
From the services, to the workplaces, Shoeguru has taken a small and underrated market into an elegant and neat experience. His first ever big customer was Genius ‘Ginimbi’ Kadungure, a man who proved to be both a great client as well as a budding mentor.
The Intricate Art of Shoe Cleaning by Shoeguru
Shoes are more than just a functional accessory; they are a reflection of our personal style and identity. However, the constant exposure to dirt, grime, and general wear and tear can quickly take a toll on their once-cherished appearance.
That’s where professional shoe cleaning services step in. Think of them as a full-on shoe therapy exposure, a place where your shoes go to vent out their pent-up frustrations and pay testimonials to just how they are treated by their owners and then get a new revamped outlook; and sent back on their way to deal with toxic or non-toxic users.
(Side note: we really need to start taking greater care of our shoes guys).
These specialized establishments have perfected the art of shoe restoration, combining their expertise with high-quality products and techniques to bring shoes back to their original glow. However, not everyone can appreciate this impeccably glorious art and they look down upon this particular side of the business.
They expect the barest minimum price for exceptional services, and it’s days like these that Brighten and his workers find customers gruesome to deal with. It’s so easy to look down upon this trade when it requires a fine, meticulous eye to ascertain how much of a step-up it is from the shoe services we are used to or grew up with.
The Process of Shoe Cleaning
The customer is king/queen or should l say, the customer used to be king/queen. The Shoeguru company rather aims towards a mutual understanding basis. You are in need of their services and they need you to carry out those services. It’s a 50-50 kind of situation at both ends.
They kindly explain their processes and services rendered and if you come to an understanding then they begin to operate.
A well-drawn out example is when a customer is in need of an emergency quick service. The material, type and service required of the shoe will determine the kind of urgency they can do. If otherwise, and they cannot perform the service, they would rather let you go and pick quality service rendered over a quick sale.
Image is everything when you are building a brand. And even when the brand is well-established.
We all know the short version of the saying Rome wasn’t built in a day.
English playwright John Heywood’s saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour”, is a reminder of the fact that it requires time and patience to create something big and great.
A shoe cleaning service typically begins by assessing the condition of the shoes to determine the appropriate cleaning method.
They employ a range of cleaning techniques, from gentle brushing and spot cleaning to more intensive treatments such as deep cleaning, stain removal, and color restoration.
Apart from cleaning, they also provide additional services like reconditioning, and waterproofing to enhance the longevity of your favorite pair.
Quality Products and Techniques
Shoeguru workers are cleaning professionals that utilize a variety of top-quality products and techniques suited for different types of materials, including leather, suede, canvas, and more. These products are designed to effectively remove dirt, stains, and odors while preserving the integrity of the shoe.
With their expertise, they can navigate through the complexities of different shoe constructions, ensuring that the cleaning process is tailored to meet the unique needs of each pair.
By expertise it encompasses the fact that the founder studied an Honours Bachelor degree in Science, Geography and Human Environment.
They also offer a wide range of services that expand from just cleaning shoes. They also do couches, leather sofas, car leather seats — recently they did branding covers for ZimPapers radio stations; they now have branded microphones and equipment.
Shoeguru is the main thing (that is, shoe laundry is like the first-born child) and other services such as the branding come second.
The Benefits of Shoe Laundry Services provided by Shoeguru
1. Enhanced Durability: Regular cleaning and maintenance with Shoeguru significantly extend the lifespan of your shoes, preventing the buildup of dirt and grime that can weaken the materials over time.
2. Restored Appearance: Their shoe cleaning services can breathe new life into tired-looking shoes, making them look fresh, vibrant, and ready for any occasion.
3. Eco-Friendly Solution: By investing in shoe care and restoration, you can reduce your environmental impact. Instead of discarding worn-out shoes and buying new ones, you can extend the life of your existing footwear, promoting sustainability. They also use eco-friendly products and materials.
- Supporting Local Businesses: By utilizing the services of a shoe cleaning business, you not only benefit from their expertise but also contribute to the growth and sustainability of your local economy.
- Supporting small businesses helps create a cycle of community support, where the success of local entrepreneurs translates into improved services, increased employment, and ultimately, a thriving neighborhood.
My personal experience with Shoeguru’s shoe-cleaning services
I couldn’t finish writing this article without taking a moment to say anything personal in my time with Shoeguru services.
First things first: Every worker, l mean every worker, had smart, well-taken cared of clean shoes. I didn’t mean to pay such close attention but l couldn’t help but take notice.
I arrived a little bit early for my interview and Brighten was out attending to some business.
I got the warmest welcome from Walter, one of the guys who works there. He was in the middle of cleaning some shoes ,which he did exceptionally well.
I had to hold myself back from openly staring at him as he worked because he did with such fascination only a seasoned hand could do with.
It was during this time when l was trying to avert my gaze but failing miserably that l saw his shoes. It immediately got me thinking to every dirty pair of my shoes inside my cabinets.
But after that l looked at everyone’s shoes and l have a five star rating ,it just goes to show you how it’s not just a job but rather an art. Like an account who just doesn’t balance the company’s books and records but his or her household’s as well.
Needless to say, he was nice, carried out conversation in an endearing way which just goes to show you the kind of people employed at Shoeguru Laundry Zimbabwe.
KVG commented on their website about the beautiful customer service they provide and l couldn’t agree more.
Brighten Tipi is a guy who carries on a flourish of conversation that is not one sided but rather open to a discussion that leaves a lasting impression.
I left with my shoes properly cleaned, l swear l skipped all the dusty places and potholes of the Harare city centre on my way to Market square just so l couldn’t get my shoes dirty again. You should have seen me skipping the road like l was Dora the Explora and all.
On the overall, l had a wonderful time, a refreshing interview and an impeccable lasting impression that will have me popping in form their offices from time to time and saying hello and definitely getting my shoes serviced.
In a world where consumerism often encourages us to discard and replace, shoe cleaning services offer a refreshing alternative by preserving and reviving our beloved footwear.
By entrusting our shoes to these skilled artisans, we not only extend the lifespan of our cherished pairs but also support local businesses that contribute to the vibrancy of our communities.
Brighten could have taken on so much more ventures in the field he was qualified to do but he didn’t.
During our conversations he said something that l liked ,that when he embarked on the Shoeguru venture other people and friends resorted to saying “ahh Tipi apera, akucleaner bhutsu” but the thing was there was so much more to his story than cleaning shoes,the front which people decided to focus on.
Now with big customers such as Panjap, KVG and more, this has turned into a networking venture with the ability to go mobile and turn into an international thing.
I am here to tell you kuti indeed ‘Tipi haasati apera,’ he is just getting started. Check it out yourself; visit the Shoeguru Laundry Zimbabwe offices, and, definitely, don’t forget to bring a pair of shoes so you can see and get the full experience.
Having given me the opportunity to see his vision and assess his goals from the day he wrote them up until now l can confidently say; you have not seen anything yet. The key takeaway being the untold story can be told.