Inspirational YOU interviews CEO Fred Deegbe.
Fred believes that some of the best things in the world can come from Africa. It was this conviction that inspired him to start Heel the World Shoe Company (HTW) which he co-founded in 2011.
Now as the company’s Chief Executive Office, Fred and his team are committed to helping other young people start and grow their own businesses. Prior to founding HTW, Fred worked at Amalbank and MMRS Ogilvy.
He graduated from Ashesi University in 2006, where he was the president of the Student’s Council. It was at Ashesi that Fred discovered and nurtured his interests in Africa, enterprise, and giving. His work has been featured on MTV, DSTV and CNN.
What is your current role?
CEO of Heel The World
Can you tell me a little about your professional and personal background?
I studied Business administration in Ashesi University. Had a terrible year of job hunting and soul searching in the US in 2007. I went there to work and get money to invest in a t shirt company I had started with some friends called Made in Ghana (MIG). I returned disillusioned, quit the MIG dream and joined MMRS Ogilvy-an ad agency because I thought Ghanaians were talented but just needed better marketing. After a year there I joined a bank and did Service Quality Management for a while before starting HTW on the side. Within 12 months of starting the company I sent my resignation letter.
Why did you start Heel the World Shoes and bracelets?
I started it because I wanted to give Hermes and Louis Vuitton a run for their money. Or at least, be in their face. For far too long Africa has been slighted on so many fronts, and mediums that we don’t even believe in ourselves anymore. A few years ago I went out to buy a pair of shoes in Osu (high end street in Ghana) and when I asked a wandering shoe-shine boy if the shoes could be made in Ghana he replied “IMPOSSIBLE”. The painful thing was that there were a host of other more-educated people who thought the same and this made me wonder-if we cannot make our shoes,when are we going to make our own planes? I partnered with Vijay Manu in February 2011, after a year and half of research and experimentation and Heel The World was born.
The HTW Empowerment beads subsequently came about in April 2011 when we were invited to an event and wanted participants to leave with a memento that embodied the essence of the brand. Black is for the Hard Work, Gold is for the ultimate reward.
HTW is no longer a shoe company, it is a lifestyle, it is a movement of the new Africa- the capable and fearless one.
What are your interests?
I am regular guy, who is a Chelsea FC football fan, enjoys basketball highlights and Italian food. I have become very tunnel vision since I began my company.. I am interested in nothing less than making it a success.
What is your mantra?
Do something before you die.
Who do you admire?
hmm…Walt Disney..or what is now known as the Disney Corporation.. How he used his imagination to build an empire that consisted of characters, film, music, theme parks, puppets, toys . He called it Imagineering. I am working tirelessly to do a multiple number of things under the Heel The World brand.
How do you keep going when motivation and / or inspiration is waning?
I pray to God first because so much has happened that I didn’t plan for that someone out there has to be watching out for me so. He needs to see me through from start to finish. I also watch videos on youtube of successful companies/people and when the desire for success re-emerges I transfer the energy back into Heel The World.
Any new happenings you care to share?
To celebrate the success of the beads, we are coming out with a four- fold Black and Gold collection: bead and jewellery line, leather accessories,a new range of shoes, and collaborations with some of Africa’s finest brands from the summer of 2014 – God-willing.