Part of my learning and growth journey of being the CEO of a running shoe company was looking up other companies in the industry, their CEOs, direction of leadership and essentially all the lessons and achievements that they had gathered along the way.
I quickly realized that in this established industry of running footwear, there were some things that made Enda and I distinctly different from other running brands. Here’s how we’re different, I’m different and why it matters so much:
1. How running shoes are sold
Most runners fear injury, and the industry has capitalized on this fear to sell more shoes by optimizing the beliefs that a certain type of shoe can minimize injury. The most commonly used pseudo-science and marketing gimmicks used by the industry to address this fear are pronation control, maximalism and minimalism, andwe have written about them here. Short version: the gimmicks do not prevent injury. As a running shoe brand born out of Kenya, one of the earliest homes of the human species, and where the dirt roads of the Rift Valley have been the laboratory on which runners have finessed their skills, we are promising honesty instead. No pseudoscience. No marketing gimmicks. Just simple well made gear delivering consistent results. And for runners fearing injury, the simple and honest advice is to run in shoes that are comfortable for the run you are doing.
2. Building a global brand from Africa
How, where, and who makes our products matters. When we first started out, we were amazed and driven by the fact that countries with great reputations in different sectors had managed to monetize their reputation and create social and economic impact that benefited everyone. For instance, Germany’s reputation in engineering precision and Italy’s reputation in fashion have contributed immensely to their respective GDPs. In Kenya and Africa, though? Little else other than individual and national pride. By creating a brand from Africa, we are creating a space through which people not only have jobs but also that other supportive industries can grow with us as we expand our global reach.
3. Spreading culture through design and storytelling
Throughout Africa’s history, storytelling remains a powerful medium for education and information. All the products we create tell a unique and beautiful story. We leverage art, music, and culture to develop products that inspire, educate and elicit pride worldwide.
Enda was born of a community effort - literally! Two successful Kickstarter campaigns were the backbone of our existence, as people from over 30 different countries chipped in to make our dream a reality. Kenyan running is about community, be in when runners live together in camps, to how they train and how they run when trying to achieve a 1,2,3 medal sweep. We recognize that community is important to being the best version of yourself and for that reason, we not onlyinvest a portion of our revenues back to local communities here in Kenyabut also strive to create Enda communities globally that support each other (you canjoin our Strava community, in case you haven’t!)
Kenyan athletes inspire the world when it comes to distance running. And although many runners around the world benefit from this inspiration, the same Kenyan runners usually return to humbling economic backgrounds laden with pressures to lift entire communities out of poverty. It doesn’t have to be this way. Enda is committed tobringing positive economic and social impact in Kenya, all while being led by a Kenyan. This little last detail is important because as a country and continent, we need the younger generation to see and believe that they too can grow businesses and brands that can go global.