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.
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.
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?
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.
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.