We live in a time when it seems to be getting a little easier to be a female entrepreneur in many areas of the world. Yet in Nigeria, for a courageous, passionate shoemaker, building a business in a male dominated field is still an uphill battle. Don’t miss this inspiring interview with Olamide Ogunsanya!
A creative and versatile footwear innovator and trainer with a fantastic eye for detail, product design and development, Olamide Orgunsanya is among the very few female entrepreneurs in Nigeria that is pursuing shoemaking while empowering young people and women to acquire the right skills to become financially stable.
Committed to education and knowledge transfer, Olamide is a seasoned trainer with The Lifematics Center. She uses an experiential and engaging approach in delivering content. She is a dynamic educator, lover of children and runs training and workshop for math educators across the country. She volunteers with One African Child Foundation where she helps in the development of training curricula and serves as the head trainer. She’s also a certified educator with The Teaching Network Foundation. Today we talk to her about her love for making shoes and helping others discover their own passions.
How did you start in your path as a female entrepreneur? Tell us about your business and why you chose shoemaking.
I started my path as female entrepreneur years back as an undergraduate. I loved making shoes, so I went ahead to meet a trainer who gave me an outrageous price, which I could not afford as a student. It was really a hard time for me because friends and family didn’t see what I was seeing. I saw myself in an unusual profession for ladies.
So I took up the challenge to start selling plantain chips and some other items just to raise funds for my training fee to realize my dream to be a graduate of shoemaking and acquire skills in footwear production from an institution. I couldn’t afford the training fee until I graduated from school. I kept my money to be able to attend the training after graduation at which time I enrolled and was trained by one of the leading shoe making institutions in my country. I will be forever grateful that I was able to achieve part of my big dream as a female entrepreneur.
Today, as female entrepreneur I own a training base and solution hub for a beauty brand that deals with shoemaking and makeovers. I focus on two key areas: production and training of women and unemployed youth. Our company helps bring out the essential beauty in every individual. The target audience for our products and services are children, youngsters and adults. We specialize in building different kinds of slip-ons and unisex shoes. We create a memorable look for our clients through our makeover.
Understanding the true essence of looking good in this 21st century our vision is to give essence to beauty. The company is called Beauty Matics and it’s registered under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I hope to acquire more skill in shoemaking and footwear production from a world- renowned shoemaking institution.
Here’s a great organization for Latina entrepreneurs in the U.S.
What’s unique about your designs?
When it comes to designing, I try to use color, a mix of materials and to modify existing designs. And most importantly, I take into consideration the style and expression of my target audience. They like elegance, simplicity and comfort.
We know you train people in your field. What does it take to become a really good shoemaker?
To become a good shoemaker, you have to really have a thorough knowledge of your materials because materials have a lot to do with the outcome. The second thing I will highlight is having an eye for detail. Making sure that your final product has the kind of aesthetic appeal that will get the attention of your client. For that, you need to be detailed oriented in your design and production. Lastly you need a lot of practice, particularly when you are a female entrepreneur. Practice is like polish; it will ultimately make your skill glitter.
Do you know a lot of other women shoemakers? Who are they?
Yes quite a number of females are becoming shoemakers and for me as a female entrepreneur, that is inspiring. I have female shoemakers who I trained as well as others I met in various networking platforms. They include Bunmi Giwa, Otobe, Christy Ezemba, Adebukunola, and Choima Madueke of Madulabels.
How common is to be a female entrepreneur in Nigeria?
There are quite a number of female entrepreneurs in Nigeria and I believe the level of interest is very high. You can find them in occupations that are natural to women such as fashion designing, makeover, hairdressing, and male dominated occupations such as shoemaker, mechanic, etc. What has been a challenge is having an environment and the funding that enable these female entrepreneurs to thrive. I use myself as a case study of female entrepreneur in my country Nigeria.
Female entrepreneurs helping each other
Where do female entrepreneurs get support to carry out their business in your country?
We rarely get financial support because nobody is ready to invest in startup businesses. So most female entrepreneurs end up giving up their dreams due to lack of financial support. Emotionally it’s not always easy to combine the pressure from works, family and friends who don’t belief in our dreams. We end up being a mentor to each other or to ourselves.
Tell us about your network of female entrepreneurs. Do you attend conferences together, collaborate with one another?
I’ve being to several conferences. The most recent one that I attended was at Addis Ababa where I was able to connect with like-minded people. Now we are able to assist each other through mentorship and support strictly for women via our online platform. I can say it has been effective and tremendously helpful for empowering women ever since I returned to my country.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young female entrepreneur, what would it be?
Keep striving hard and don’t give up on your dream because people are watching you.
And as always, if you’re ready to pursue your passion and need to build some skills, join our Step Up program. We have individual memberships. 🙂