If you’re into wildlife, conservation, the outdoors or even just good quality fashion, you will have heard of the brand Sapmok and for all the right reasons.
Their vision if to “bring realness to the people for the planet”, and they’re doing it in all the right ways with all the right kinds of products.
Sapmok is an all-adventure brand with a unique product offering of hand-crafted shoes and products tailored to give an authentic feel and real-life experience. Made in South Africa and set on survival mode in today’s economy.
They’re constantly working hard to create more sustainable products, like their vegan series without compromising their quality. One of the main reasons Sapmok was created was to celebrate the unsung heroes in conservation, and this is where their team create projects and ideas to support their dream.
Sapmoks are locally designed and made for style, comfort and durability.
“Our materials are ethically and locally sourced! Our leather is a byproduct of local farming and agriculture industries (our hides come from animals raised for their meat). Our leather is also vegetable-tanned leather, which means it is treated with entirely natural and organic tannins. We also implemented ‘revive-to-survive’, which is where we ‘revive’ your vellies so that you don’t have to purchase another pair.”
The Pretoria Post sat down with Founder, Werner Winterboer, in an exclusive one-on-one and got to know more about the exciting brand that everyone has grown to love.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company, Sapmok?
Sapmok was created by Werner Winterboer in 2015. I was born and raised in Pretoria and studied BComm Logistics in Stellenbosch. I decided to follow my dream to start his own Modern Africa Adventure brand. I did this by combining all the things I love and my ideal picture of life to create the style of Sapmok. Even though the company started in 2015, Sapmok only started to trade in February 2017. It took almost 2 years to create and design the brand before we sold our first pair of shoes. The name of the brand comes from the word Kompas (compass in Afrikaans) written backwards
As the owner of Sapmok, what does it mean to you to be a vital part of the brands growth and success as a whole, and on a daily basis?
I have a certain vision for the Sapmok brand and for where I want it to go, and therefore for me, its crucial to be part of all the daily integral activities in each department, to oversee all developments and make sure that we are on-track for the Sapmok brand to develop and grow in the right direction.
What drew you to the world of ‘hand-crafted shoes’ and ideally, to the idea of opening up your company?
I’ve been an avid wearer of vellies for as long as I can remember, and the Sapmok brand needed an entry product. I saw a gap in the market, for a more "modern" style of vellies, especially when it came to the female market and created the brand with that exact idea in mind. There is so much more in store for Sapmok, in terms of new products, that will be launched in the new year and this might surprise people as it wont be shoes. The goal with this launch is to create a line of products that would fit adventures in Africa.
One of the main reasons Sapmok was created was to recognise and celebrate the unsung heroes in conservation. Why is this important to you and how do you contribute towards this?
IN the world of Conservation, we have so many unsung hero's who risk their lives everyday without the shine, the fame and recognition the deserve. The usually are individuals who have given up their time, high paying salaries and do it as a passion or calling. Sapmokk aim's to highlight the incredible work they do and to give them the recognition they very much deserve.
What was your journey to becoming a business owner like?
Honestly.... it’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever done and there are days where I don't know if i'm coming or going, but at the end of the day, I love what I do and the impact that we are making.
What do you lend the success of your brand to?
Definitely my support base, from my father who is always there for me supplying endless advice, to my staff who have stuck by my side through thick and thin even when things get tough.
As a businessman, where do you draw daily inspiration from?
I'm an avid reader, I love to pick the brains of entrepreneurs in different working niches, travel and even just the relaxation session listening to my favourite music inspires me.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur and businessman?
I enjoy the freedom and many aspects that come with running your company, even though you are never truly free lol!
With more men and woman starting their own businesses and becoming entrepreneurs in our country, what advice would you give them when facing hardships and challenges?
I believe that behind each hardship and challenges there is a lesson and that there is always a solution to the problem, it might not always be visible at first, but it is there in that lesson. Consistency is key in any sphere of business, so just when you think you cannot carry on any more, keep your head down and keep pushing, you will find a path through.
Who are you when the clock strikes 17h00 and your business doors close and your “boss-hat” comes off?
I’m a relaxed man, who loves spending time with friends and family, and obvioulsy addicted to adventure, so whereever possible I sneak in some travel time.
What’s the best piece of ‘business’ advice you have ever received?
That business can be cruel and people can't always be trusted, but more importantly, Get everything in writing.
You’re constantly working hard to create more sustainable products, like your vegan series, without compromising your quality. Why is this important to you and how do you achieve this?
It’s very important to the environment and our aim is to supply sustainable products in the long run. From what I see there are many brands and consumers who are heading in that direction. In order for Nature to look after us, we need to respect it and look after it as well. There is a complete balance in life between nature and man and it's one that needs to be respected.
What are the 3 most important must-haves for the perfect business recipe?
A great team, total and complete belief in your products and then the "why". The why is where everything stems from so remembering and staying true to the reason of why you started the brand is of utmost importance.
How do you find the perfect balance between work, personal life and all the daily admin and duties?
When I leave the office at the end of the day, I close the doors with all "work talk" and "work obligations" in. I don't bring work home, that is family and friend time.
Looking back, what has been one of the greatest highlights in your career to date and why?
There are so many personal highlights I am so proud of. Seeing a complete stranger, walk past me and wearing a pair of Sapmok vellies makes me proud, makes me remember why i sstarted the brand and inspires me to develop the brand more. But with out a doubt the biggest highlight is knowing that Sir Richard Branson, wears Sapmoks.
How do you deal with the stresses of daily life?
Going out with friends usually does the trick.
Describe your perfect customer?
A loyal customer who loves the brand as much as I do.
What is the thought process when bringing out new ranges, and colour options?
Client feedback plays an integral part when it comes to brand development. We want to keep growing our clientele so we listen to what our loyal customers want and keep within our "African Adventure motto".
What is your top must-have footwear for 2022?
100% our new All Rounder boots.
With Summer here, which Sapmok product should every man and woman get their hands on?
Our Flip Flops!! Comfortable, cool in Summer temperatures and versatile for every adventure.
69 Thomas Edison Street, Menlo Park
Number: +27 63 619 9763