Well, firstly, they went to the same boarding school in Pretoria (South Africa). They were good friends at school but then they each took a different journey.
Ross Zondagh put on his hard hat, Nick Dreyer entered the service industry and Nic Latouf found his spiritual home in digital storytelling. This could have been the end of this story, but during the 2016 Summer Olympics, Ross and Nick were on a telephone call to each other expressing their disappointment at how badly the South African Olympic team were dressed and what they would do to improve it.
In a burst of inspiration, they came up with the idea of re-igniting a more than centuries-old South African brand of shoes – the Veldskoen or ‘Vellies’ as they are lovingly referred to in South Africa. The masterstroke was to take the individual colours of the South African flag and add a dash of colour to the original shoe (souls and laces). They hashed together something over a weekend and sent it to a graphic designer to do a mock-up and were delighted with the proof they received a week later.
At that point they had an idea, very little money, and no experience whatsoever in making or marketing shoes. This wasn’t going to stop them though and within a year, they had partnered with a local manufacturer, launched an eCommerce site and were selling 2 pairs of shoes a day. In a chance meeting, Nick and Ross ran into Nic Latouf, who had accumulated a wealth of digital marketing experience. They immediately asked him to join them.
The next three years were like a fairy-tale. The shoes were a huge hit – people loved the shoes, the brand and the fact that they were manufactured in South Africa. Through their rapidly expanding network, they secured investment in their newly established US business, from both actor Ashton Kutcher and venture capitalist Mark Cuban – owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks and ‘shark’ investor on ABC reality television series “Shark Tank”.
The dream of the three founders to see Veldskoen shoes being worn as the Official uniform, on the feet of the South African Olympic Team became a reality on Friday 23rd July 2021 at the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games, as the contestants stepped out into Tokyo Olympic Stadium wearing the shoes that were inspired by a discussion about the Olympic uniform worn in 2016.
Today, Veldskoen is sold across the globe through a family of distributors and the dream of the three founders of Veldskoen has become a reality in five short years.
Veldskoen – taking South Africa to the world. We can’t wait to welcome you into our family.