interview: london-based company printed soles to vend at afropunk paris

July 14, 2017
By Awa Gueye, AFROPUNK Contributor

We sat down with London-based company Printed soles– hand designed, customized footwear- to learn a little bit more about their unique products and overall experience as the fabulous black-owned company that it is. Get ready to do your feet a favor at this month’s AFROPUNK Paris, where they will be vending at the much-anticipated Spinthrift Market; which showcases a wide variety of inspiring and innovative products from the best of Paris’ makers community.

Be sure to check them out this July 15th-16th, and learn more about their vision below!

1. What does AFROPUNK mean to you?

Growing up the UK, I literally fit in nowhere. I was not typical anything and the fact that I moved around a lot did not make things easier.  I listened to everything, which upset everyone and liked things that I was told ‘people like you should not enjoy’. Being totally unapologetic for simply being myself is something constantly searched for.

I instantly became connected to the movement Afropunk and I thank the creators for its existence as I think it is a place to breathe and accept yourself and that’s why Afropunk means everything to me.

Personally I believe that many of us just get tired of living up to an ideal which does not reflect our individuality.  I love that Afropunk provides a platform for many to simply ‘be’, without judgement. There is so much beauty in diversity, experimentation and having the freedom to express yourself. Afro punk allows me as an individual who would has suffered in silence a safe place to communicate and participate with other who see life differently.

My brand Printed Soles also communicates to the alternative individual the whole essence of the brand includes embracing, celebrating and acknowledging differences.  Each shoe is unique and no two pairs are the same, so if you are looking to stand out in the crowd and be noticed this brand is ideal for you.

2. What is it to be a black private company in London?

It is an exciting time right now to be a black private company.  There are an array of innovative enterprises, business owners and entrepreneurs who are taking risks and creating our new paths, which is beautiful and exciting to see.

My business is with the creative industries and there are many of us opening up to the fact that we can have business in the areas in which we love. I am constantly motivated to see others prosper and I hope in turn I can inspires others to do the same.

 3. What was the most rewarding part of your job?

I love making others happy, when people see my shoes they get excited and it is sometimes like seeing a kid receiving a present at Christmas, which is the best feeling.   As we all know energy is important and we all have a duty to contribute positivity to others. 

This business has made me realize that there is much more to life than just the exchange of money for goods.  I believe it is more to do with the exchange of energy, genuine appreciation for work or craftsmanship, therefore I feed off the feedback I receive from others as it is important to bounce off and work off mutual positive energy. 


4. What are the challenges in establishing Afrocentric businesses in large European cities?

There are always challenges in everything you do but I believe that you need to have a confidence and undefeated belief in yourself and your product to the point where nothing or nobody can dent, bend or tamper with anything you have created.  

I also believe that it really depends on what you want from life, if you want to change the way people treat you, first you have to change yourself, respect yourself and honor what you do.   Nobody can deny someone who truly believes in themselves and when situations occur, through hard work and self-belief challenges will fall by the waste side.

Most of the struggles and challenges are within therefore I believe it is within my grasp to stop myself from pressing the self-destruct button. Believe me no situation is perfect and something is always there to challenge you but these are external test.  If your inner being is aligned with your something which truly makes you happy and inspires or helps others to do the same you will be able to fight through the struggles subconsciously. 

5. How does Afropunk influence the work you do?

Afropunk showcases and celebrates black people finally finding freedom to express just about anything they choose to reveal about themselves, without the fear of judgement.  Based purely on my own opinion I believe sometimes we tend to not support people who are different for one reason or another.  Through sheer observation it seems that many of us are happy to fit into a box for survival purposes, which to one extent is needed but in some cases individuality and original thinking is essential for the advancement of a generation to the next stage. I have always had a rebellious nature even now as an adult I find it hard to conform to the norm, therefore I tend to gravitate to the alternative lifestyles because within them you find my authentic self.

Printed Soles also reflects the rebellious spirit, first of all no two pairs are alike and the designs on the shoes are not something you would see in a high street store. I believe Afropunk has and will continue to influence me and the work I do to be explore and create pieces without boundaries.