all about our director

John EbakoOwner of King Kong Leather.

Meticulous craftsmanship and skilled design are synonymous with King Kong’s leather goods, which are becoming highly sought after locally and beyond.

We chat to the man behind the brand, John Ebako, on how he built his business from Cameroon to Cape Town.

I came to Cape Town to earn a living. I wouldn’t say I chose the city directly, but after living in various places I ended up here and thought, ‘why not?’. That was twelve years ago. I stayed for a few reasons, one of them being that I met my wife, a South African. It seemed like a good place to make a life and raise my family. Two of my brothers also joined me here."

I have lived in Ghana and Senegal and Capetown is a very interesting and impressive city. I enjoy the climate here as Cameroon is tropical and sometimes very uncomfortable, hot and humid. While it’s tough to start a business anywhere, in Capetown the market is open and it is easy to understand our competitors.

John Ebako
I have always worked with leather and was selling goods in Cameroon too; I was fortunate to have many people teach me the craft along the way. Back in 2004 I worked on the set of 10 000 BC here in Cape Town and started chatting to some American designers. We played around together and came up with different designs which I made into handbags, belts and shoes. At first I sold mostly at festivals like KKNK and the Grahamstown Festival, then on consignment and now from my shopfront opposite the Woodstock Exchange and on the website. It’s a tough business to be in but we are trying!

The thing I miss most about home is the food – the food in Cameroon is amazing. My favorite dish is ndolé (a vegetable stew mixed with pistachio nuts) and fish; my little girl knows how to make it now. I also miss the people but we are lucky that we have a big community from Cameroon here in Capetown and we meet up every week. I would say things are a lot more difficult here if you aren’t local. I have not experienced xenophobia first hand, but it has affected me in one way or another.

"My dream is to extend my business – into the rest of South Africa, Africa and overseas. That would be wonderful."