The first leap
Our founder, Mike Gedye, started Michelle footwear in 1978. That company would eventually become Froggie. Before the starting the company, Mike had done a variety of jobs including packing chocolate on supermarket shelves, being a trainee production manager in a footwear factory, and selling Hang Ten shoes to shops in Durban.
Along the way he had bought some shoe making machinery from a factory that was closing down, which he stored in a garage while he waited for an opportunity to use it. That opportunity presented itself when a potential customer showed Mike a simple flat sandal that was selling very well, but which he could not get enough stock of. Seeing a gap in the market, Mike started manufacturing in a friend’s garage, and when it came to putting the brand name on the insole of the shoe – he had no idea what to stamp. A friend suggested ‘Michelle’, which was the feminine equivalent of ‘Michael’. With that one pair of shoes, Mike had taken his first leap into business! As the production grew, Mike knew he could not manage the financial and management aspects of running a business alone. His talent was in picking styles and selling them. He decided to invite Bob Ludlow, who was a friend from school and a qualified engineer, to become his partner, knowing that they would complement each other well.
Stepping in a new direction
After the initial success of the synthetic sandal, Mike continued to make synthetics until 1982, when he brought in designer Rob Dorse, who was experienced in leather. This began the journey to becoming a complete leather factory by 1988. During that time, Mike found a style that was nicknamed ‘froggie’ by a customer named Marcello; whose boss Stuart Dodo, on first seeing the style, called it the ugliest shoe he had even seen – so much so that it reminded him of a flat frog! Despite its comedic beginnings, the shoe sold incredibly well for many years. Eventually, Mike decided to drop the name Michelle and change the company to ‘Froggie’.
Mike had a big heart for people. Many of the staff that he brought in from the first factory he worked in, and the people he employed, developed into a loyal team that had many members who stayed through to their retirement.
In 1986 Mike’s wife Sarah, who had been a shoe buyer, joined him and developed a handbag range made out of the off-cuts of leather. These off-cuts were from the shoes. Sarah then went on to become Brand Manager, her focus including range development, brand building and advertising boosting Froggie to new heights in the market today.
When Mike’s son Warren first joined, he was working in retail, after which he moved through various departments in the factory. Today, he is the CEO of Froggie!
With the assistance of many loyal, talented, and hardworking team members, Froggie has developed into a true South African family and brand that has stood the test of time.
Froggie puts its best foot forward
Since the beginning, Froggie has offered comfortable, trendy footwear reworks, revisions and redesigns fashionable footwear for consumers that want to look good without compromising on comfort.
International trends are developed locally in more comfortable styles. Over the past three decades, we have built a brand that focuses on the discerning South African woman’s footwear needs.