Bow Shoeshoe is an ethical apparel company dedicated to eradicating HIV/AIDS through entrepreneurship and community development in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, Africa.
Bow Shoeshoe was founded in 2015 by a former Peace Corps volunteer, Edward, and his Basotho host brother, Katleho, in the Ha Rankakala system of villages high in the Drakensberg Mountains. When a group of women in the village was looking for a way to raise money to help fund a local burial society for their AIDS-ravaged community, Ed and Katleho had an idea rooted in local craft, culture and vibrant colored fabric: Shoeshoe bow ties.
With a mission and hands-on hard work, Edward, Katleho, and the Ha Rankakala women produced the first batch of beautiful Shoeshoe bow ties. The ties quickly sold, and Ed and Katleho were able to pay each sewer $100 for a few weeks of work. By contrast, the average Mosotho earns $750 per year.
Since that first batch of bow ties, Edward and Katleho have been able to expand Bow Shoeshoe training and production to more than 150 Basotho villagers in 7 different communities. Men and women work side-by-side in 15-30 person teams, each doing the same jobs and earning the same income based on their agreed upon share in the team effort. The team then decides how to distribute additional revenues toward much-needed community projects.
With demand increasing for Bow Shoeshoe apparel and the economic opportunity it brings, the pair have split their efforts. Currently, Katleho manages production in Lesotho, assisting community sewing teams and teaching new products to each community. Edward is now headquartered most of the year in New Orleans, where he focuses on designing and marketing Bow Shoeshoe products to the wider world..