Over 10 years we help companies reach their financial and branding goals. Engitech is a values-driven technology agency dedicated.

Gallery

Contacts

411 University St, Seattle, USA

engitech@oceanthemes.net

+1 -800-456-478-23

Startup

Interview With Calabar’s Best Shoemaker

Everybody loves shoes. Of course you’d like to look smart and cool in a new pair of shoes you buy; which also allows you to express your fashion sense.

Shoes are in high demand. People who venture into the shoe-making business stand out with their creativity in creating designer shoes that fits their target audience.

It’s interesting that Africa is richly endowed with the raw materials that gives talents the edge to build a multi-million footwear Industry.

African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Ghana are leading the footwear revolution on the continent – Manufacturing shoes that are both profitable & good for the local and export market.

In our interview with Emmanuel Ezima, the founder of A-Z Couture, a shoe making business in Calabar, he shares his journey with us.  

Tell us a little about you and your company.

A-Z Couture is a shoe-making company & training center  in Calabar, Nigeria. I started the business in 2018 and we’ve been running for 8 years now. It hasn’t been smooth, honestly but it’s successful!

Six months of consistency helped me achieve my goals for the business. I used to depend on the government for help. Waiting on them to give me a job opportunity. Kick starting my business helped me realize no one needs to depend on the government for help. Start something. Through my business I’ve trained over 1,000 youths in Calabar.

What were you doing before and how did you come up with the idea for your business?

I was serving people. I worked as a receptionist in some hotels for 6 months. I sold SIM Cards, sold noodles packs to vendors. So before choosing to become an entrepreneur, it was a hard decision.

 I used to repair people’s shoes in our neighborhood. It was more like a hobby and I liked it! Soon, I began to make money from repairing and making shoes – turning my hobby to a profitable business. 

I started training other young persons and currently, I own the biggest shoe making business in Calabar South.

How did you identify different market groups to market too?

The first people I began selling to were my WhatsApp contacts. I talked about my business a lot on all my social platforms: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Everyday my post was about the shoes I made. It even stuck in my followers mind that I was the shoe guy they could always meet. This consistency made me gain customers. People were sharing my work and I was getting jobs done.

What were the milestones in your head that would validate your success?

Always congratulating myself on my little achievements and thinking outside Calabar. 

How did you start testing out your idea for your shoe business?

This was a process. Penning down major goals for the business and breaking them down to smaller tasks that helped me reach my goals. In a business like this you need to be online and offline. 

Online to help you reach your customers and offline doing the work. 

I had a girlfriend back then who helped me with advertisements for the business. Sharing shoes I made on our WhatsApp status. You know, girls have more status viewers than we guys.

She helped in getting customers online while I was always offline working at the workshop.

Also, my father gave me a space in our family compound to move into for my business. In less than a year I had transformed the place into a school which has trained talents in Calabar.

What did you do for advice? Do you have mentors or coaches?

No successful business person will tell you they don’t have a mentor or a role model. Even if it’s someone you can’t meet physically, seeing them from afar, following their works, reading about them can help you set your goals to achieve great things like they did. We need to learn from each other and not compete. People like Tony Elemunu inspire me.

No successful business person will tell you they don’t have a mentor or a role model. Even if it’s someone you can’t meet physically, seeing them from afar, following their works, reading about them can help you set your goals to achieve great things like they did. We need to learn from each other and not compete. People like Tony Elemunu inspire me.

How do you handle the funding aspect? Did you get investors? What did you do?

We haven’t had an investor yet. We are still trying to structure and put things in place. Currently, I have 7 employees and it’s my major job to keep the business up and running. 

How did you handle COVID-19? How did it affect your business, the model and the future outlook?

My business wasn’t affected by the pandemic. We even had a turnover. Most young people were idle during that period and I held a series of shoe training sessions. It brought us great profits.

How do you build your capacity to run your business and your team?

I make my team work with/for themselves. The best work with new acquaintances. This way we learn fast from each other.

What have you learned that you wish someone would have told you?

I wish someone had told me to leave my father’s house earlier to start my business. I felt the years I spent there were a waste. I started the business at the back of our house. I was still learning but I wish I had left to move forward with the business.

Where’s the startup now?

On a scale of 10-100 we are at 50. We’ve been growing and I have plans to expand to other places within and outside Calabar.

By 2023 we will be celebrating our golden jubilee – 10 years in the business. 

This is exciting!

Don’t stop yet. Lol. You can check out A-Z Couture on Instagram. Fun fact, Emmanuel Ezima’s wife is also a shoemaker! Check out her page here.

His shoes

Her Shoes

Author

Precious Inyang

I write about tech, innovation and business

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.