SHOES MAKE THE MAN
For the CEO of Adepa shoes, Charis Debrah ,the fashion landscape looks bright. Adepa shoes are making their way all over the world through his diverse clientele. A graduate from the University of Ghana with a bachelor’s degree in Political science with professional certifications in project management and digital marketing to boot, it might seem odd that he went into shoe design…well not as odd as the fact that he heads a management team made up of a mechanical engineer, aeronautical engineer, a procurement professional, an IT specialist and a pilot! The shoe virtuoso talks beards, Ghana’s hidden treasures, and working as a shoe designer in his beloved country.
How did you get into design in the first place?
Our quest to be different and stand out no matter the occasion led us into shoe design.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing
Well, Life was tough because our parents couldn’t always provide for most of our needs. We had to learn to fend for ourselves at a tender age.
What do you love about being a shoe brand in Ghana?
The fact that we always exceed people’s expectations and being able to provide what most thought impossible to achieve in the field of shoe making right here in Ghana.
Why men’s shoes and not women’s?
Women are special and it takes a lot to understand their choice of style and what goes into their selection of shoes. We are still researching to come up with shoes women will fall in love with.
Who inspires you?
Apostle Engineer Kwado Safro is my all time inspiration. A diligent and selfless man whose inventions have put Ghana and Africa on the map. His can do spirit spurs me to keep striving for the best.
Is there a brand with which you’d imagine a “dream” collaboration?
To collaborate with other African owned brands in any part of the world is the goal.
What materials do you work with?
We use suede, velvet, cordovan calf and exotic leathers like croc and ostrich leathers. We use only the best of what is available to us but import when the need arises.
Have you employed any youth or are you mentoring any? And how many employees do you have?
Our team is a diverse mixture of those who are experienced in the craft and those who we have taken under our wings to train. Often we do take in interns to polish up their knowledge. Our employee strength reaches eight, three of whom are permanent and five are casuals.
What is a typical day at Adepa shoes workshop?
A typical day begins with our head of production (my brother and an engineer) who discusses client orders with the team. Every shoe is made with special attention to details at each stage.
Do you prefer customizing or making ready to wear?
We cherish every shoe we make whether the client is known to us or not. That notwithstanding, our ability to craft a shoe according to the client’s specifications and exceed the client’s expectations gives us impetus to do more.
Who, in your opinion, is the "Adepa shoes" man and why?
The Adepa shoes man is one who embraces uniqueness and is not ashamed to be connected to his cultural roots.
What other shoe do you wear as opposed to your own?
We have a plethora of designs to choose from for every occasion so I hardly ever wear any other brand except maybe sneakers.
A cardinal shoe rule to live by?
Care for your shoes as you care for yourself and they will last forever.
Your biggest shoe sin?
My biggest shoe sin….hmmm….going out in unpolished shoes.
Short sleeve or long sleeve shirts?
Depends on the occasion but I prefer to wear long sleeve for formal events or occasions.
Beard or no beard?
Well trimmed beard, I love the beard gang lol.
What skill do you wish you possessed but don’t?
Painting. I wish I could draw all my abstract imaginations.
Which famous African, dead or alive, would you wish to custom make a pair of Adepa shoes for?
Fela Kuti. I wish I had met him before he died.
What do you think is Ghana’s most hidden treasure and also biggest misconception?
Ghana’s most hidden treasure is our human resource just waiting to be tapped and biggest misconception is that locally manufactured products are inferior to imports.
Favorite Ghanaian slang word
“Charley” which means comrade.
What are your three shoe milestones?
Getting people to see Adepa Shoes as a brand worth patronizing, receiving the Best Entrepreneurs Award at Ghana’s young Entrepreneurs Awards and getting the opportunity to make shoes for well respected gentlemen in Ghana and several parts of the world.