Expect the Unxpected

Bloemfontein entrepreneur, Lerato Senoko, holds the fruits of her labour, UNX Sneakers, which she hopes will one day become a Proudly South African international brand. Photo: twitter (@ProudlySA)


A 32-year-old entrepreneur and fashion creative, Refilwe Lerato Senoko from Bloemfontein, has the world at her feet.

The former Eunice girl’s passion for fashion has already opened up opportunities for her. She went to China for an International Small and Medium Enterprises Fair and attended the Torino Fashion Week in Italy in October and July respectively this year.

Senoko is the owner of Unxpected Clothing (UNX), which is a manufacturing fashion house that specialises in custom and handmade sneakers, called UNX sneakers.

“What inspired me to take this line of business was my love for fashion, especially shoes. UNX was registered in 2012 and started with a cap production line but it only started operating in 2015,” she said.

One of the best things about the industry she operates is in is the creative liberty she enjoys, which she uses as a platform to express herself through her work and fashion ranges.

A few designs in the UNX Sneaker range

Senoko said she is currently facing various challenges, one of which being to persuade consumers in a brand-conscious and brand-loyal sneaker lovers market to try out her products. “UNX is in an industry where people are so brand conscious, so it’s very challenging for people to believe in a brand they don’t know. As a company we are working hard to give our customers the best of the best,” she said.

While another challenge she has is with resources and machinery, she said following her recent trip to China, she is fortunately in the process of overcoming this obstacle.

Despite the many challenges she is facing, she’s grateful for the support she’s received from friends and family, such as her mom, who was her business’s first investor when she started in 2012. She’s also grateful for the support a few government agencies like the NYDA, SEDA and FDC have given her, as they made various contributions ranging from capital to helping with marketing and also taking her to Italy earlier on this year.

The young business person said future plans she has for her business include growing the UNX brand into a retail franchise, exporting to other countries and also creating jobs for 30 families through her manufacturing factory.

She offers custom shoes as well as canvas, shweshwe (traditional) material and leather material shoes, which start from R350 to R1 299 a pair. To see more of her work, visit her Facebook page @Unx sneakers, or to place an order, email unx.sneaker@gmail.com. The address where she operates from is 36 First Avenue Street, Westdene, Bloemfontein.

She is currently making the shoes from the back of her home in Bloemfontein. Her work was recently featured on e.tv’s Sunrise morning show and also at the Proudly SA Business Forum, which was held in Bloemfontein in October.

Pulane Choane