Designer From Africa Dreams of Nike

 

At MESH01 we take a lot of pride having a global community of designers from varied backgrounds.  Nobody represents this better than Cameroonian designer Tousse Emerique AKA Tangou.  Over the last year I have gotten to know Tousse, and never have I met someone with as much drive and work ethic as him.   His story is truly inspiring.

At home drawing.

Tousse Emerique, How did you get into footwear design?

I always loved drawing everything around me, but I was more passionate about cars and shoes.  Footwear was my favorite because in my district there were children from a rich family wearing basketball shoes to play basketball every weekend.  Every evening I would go there to see the sneakers on their feet and then come back home to sketch my own sneakers. On Monday, I would show them to my classmates.

Always drawing even at the market.

One day as I went to see the guys playing basketball, one of them saw me looking at the sneakers on his feet and challenging it to the one I designed.  He came close to me and discovered my sketches, then asked me, “is it you who do this?” As he was a child from rich family, I was afraid.  I got up and I started to run to my house.  He tried to find me and started to convince me that he was liking what I do.  He told me that the thing I do is called design, and said that companies like Fila or Adidas might like my design and produce them. Nike was my favorite, and my love for design became so big, I started putting Nike logo on all shoes I was designing up until secondary school.

How have you utilized the Internet to learn more about design?    

Unable to sell his goods in the street, the market where Tousse works is dangerously perched on top of a collapsing bridge.

I told to my father one day that I would like to work for Nike in the future.  He said that  I need to graduate at school then he will get me to study footwear design someday. Unfortunately he died when I was just 16 years. 6 years later my mother could not pay my school anymore.

I decided to look for a school in footwear design to study and get my graduation to design shoes that I could post to Nike.

Cyber where Tousse gets the internet.

Unfortunately, I noticed there were schools in arts but none in the footwear design field.  My friends told me I will never get to design school because they are only abroad (country of white people) were you can find such a school. They also said I should better give up because it is impossible for people like us to get there for study.

I knew I should find a solution to get to footwear design school, but how?  Then one day walking in the street I saw people working on the computer.  I got in to the cyber and asked to the network man what it was about.  He explained to me everything, and I told him about my wish to find a school and people doing the same thing as me.  He opened a mailbox for me and taught me how to use Internet.  We do have Internet but it is very far from my home so I always have to take a taxi to get there and we have connection problems all the time, but we do with.

Online I discovered Mr Pietro Pellicelli and I wrote him a letter.  He answered me back and started to teach me design.  We have known each other almost 3 years.

Pietro Pellicelli is the first one who started to help me with a book called FOOTWEAR DESIGN GUIDE.  I discovered Mesh01 and posted a letter to look for mentorship and I discovered Mr Nick Huber who helped me improve my skill, and Matt Dealmeida on Core77 who also helped me to improve.

It is true I’m not a professional, yet, but I would like to thank them and all the professionals of Core77 that answered me back.  And thanks the one who created the Internet.

Thank you Tousse.  You are a real inspiration and we can’t wait to see what you design next.