Named one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa in 2011 by FORBES, celebrated Ethiopian entrepreneur, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu launched her first US offering at the beginning of this month; a flagship store of her eco-friendly shoe brand, SoleRebels, in Silicon Valley, California. The Ethiopian shoe brand’s first international retail space is located at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, California, an upscale indoor shopping mall in Silicon Valley.
The SoleRebels founder & Chief Executive Officer said in a statement, “I am totally vibed to open our first US soleRebels store in Silicon Valley. We have waited a while to open our first US store because we wanted to find the perfect place to open our first US location.” Alemu described her company’s new store location in the Bay Area as “a place that epitomized the creativity, innovation, craziness, disruption and the overall WALK NAKED ethos that soleRebels is all about. Silicon Valley is the epicenter of all these things and so it’s the perfect place to launch our US retail store business and I imagine there are quite a few folks in and around Silicon Valley who can’t wait to be able to ‘walk naked.’”
Alemu’s innovative SoleRebels line is one of the world’s fastest growing African shoe brands and the new Silicon Valley store location is the company’s latest global retail store rollout. Other SoleRebels store locations include the flagship store in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Barcelona, Spain; Nyon, Switzerland; Vienna, Austria; Kaohsiung City, Pingtung City, TaiChung, Taiwan; Singapore and Japan bringing a total of 18 SoleRebels branded stand alone retail stores that have been opened globally. The company projects 50 stand alone SoleRebels retail stores across the U.S. by 2018 and 500 worldwide by 2022.
While Alemu did not disclose her company revenues, I followed up with her regarding her projection that estimated revenues from Sole Rebels retail operations would hit the USD $10 million mark by 2016; “we hope to EXCEED that by end fiscal 2016!” Alemu said. She also added that “the US has always been a great market for soleRebels via our webshop and via our retail partners. We are excited about our branded stand-alone stores. SoleRebels fans love to dive into the brand experience and our stand-alone stores allow them to do just that.”
Founded in 2004 by Alemu in her community of Zenabwork, Ethiopia, SoleRebels is the first and only WFTO Fair Trade-certified footwear company. It is also the fastest growing consumer brand from Africa and the first African consumer brand to ever open stand alone branded retail stores around the globe.
The Silicon Valley store launch continues the historic push that SoleRebels is making as the very first African consumer brand to ever open its own stand-alone branded retail location in the US.