Omowunmi Omoseyindemi: The female shoemaker.
I grew up in a very comfortable family. But spent most of my early years with my paternal grandparents, my grandpa was a nerd, my granny ( a business woman and Iyaoloja of bariga market at the time)All i know today, I picked from my grandparents and parents.
I’m from a polygamous home and my father raised us all to think for ourselves. All of my siblings have one thing or the other doing. From my granny; i picked the business spirit from. The doggedness and tenacity , I picked from my dad. And from my mom I picked fairness, integrity, Prudence and empathy. My grandpa taught me how to multitask and how to be a serial entrepreneur.
I got admitted to study Bio Chemistry at UNILAG. It wasn’t easy, I was a very serious student regardless. My classmates can testify, but our lecturers were out to frustrate our lives. Eventually i had an extra year. It was a souvenir class of 93 and only 34 managed to graduate. I knew i was in hot in soup.I did not know how to tell my Father at the time.
Then i finally summoned courage to tell my parents, but world war three, four and five happened in my house. I cried almost everyday. Eventually,I picked up all the words thrown at me, and I built a shield of courage and amour of strength(Whatever that means).
I took one course first semester year 4s (only iPhone users can understand this). I had a lot of time on my hands, I went to intern in a digital marketing agency ( the little I learnt helped me build my business digitally and i also learnt content creation. Thank you Sola Contagious for the opportunity) In my spill over 2nd semester, I had to resign from the job, in order to take tutorials. I could not afford to fail again. This meant no job, no money( fine girl, empty account.)
But I knew deep down that something was missing. I knew I needed to do something with my life. I started looking for shoemaking tutorials on youtube… I didn’t know how to tell anyone at home I wanted to learn shoemaking. You know African parents. I knew they would say; “ I didn’t send you to school to become a shoemaker”
I started looking for places to learn but the prices chased me away. I couldn’t afford any of the proper shoemaking academies myself. I told myself “Aunty, you better stop deceiving yourself, find your way to any of the ghettos in Lagos you’d find something cheap.”
Eventually my dear friend Femi , found a place for me in Fadeyi. I paid and I started my lessons. It wasn’t a place you’d want your girl child to be, but I didn’t care. I only told my mom. I was the only girl in the midst of many guys.
My father would wonder, where i was always going to everyday. “Secret life of a shoemaker” I didn’t tell him anything. I told him I was learning digital marketing somewhere in Sabo. Then one day, I summoned courage and I told him. Trust African fathers- I didn’t hear the end of the story. But I knew what I wanted regardless. I’m a very stubborn child. One day, I surprised him at work with a pair of sandals.
He was impressed, he asked for the price and I told him. Yea!!you guessed right!! ( I collected my money, there’s no family in business!! And he still has that very pair of sandals). He asked for the address of the workshop, I gave him a wrong address because I didn’t expect him to visit me there. I gave him the address to a very fine street.
A week later I was filing and I looked up and I saw my father’s car on the street. Looking for the place. I ran 100meters and went into hiding !! He called my phone severally. I was scared to pick!! Eventually I did, then I gave him the right address.
That awkward moment when you tell your driver with excitement and joy“ I’m going to see my daughter today at her workshop, she’s learning how to make shoes. This sandal I’m wearing she made them” Only for you to see someone beside your car in a ghetto, looking like she just came out of a warehouse where they store flour( yam flour and wheat flour). I was white and black at the same time.
He came down and he saw lot of guys there with bottles of plastic alomo and sachets of dry gin everywhere. PS: My bosses are responsible people. But the kind of guys who sit around the shop (cubicle) are kind of scary.
He said with pain in his voice “ What are you doing in this kind of Environment!!!?? Why are you here??”
I told him, “If I had told I wanted to learn shoemaking, you would have said no, and I had to make do with what I had and my mom added little to it for me”
It became a big issue at home, at that point I was blaming myself and my big mouth for implicating my mom.
My dad told me “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you in that kind of environment, I literally cried on my way back to the office. My first child a shoemaker?”
I laid low for a while, then I found a new place but i didn’t tell him.I took some part of my savings and paid in instalments. I couldn’t go back there. I also had to go for NYSC. The zeal was almost dying. I was angry!! I was frustrated. But I knew deep down, that i needed to prove myself, else I was going nowhere with this crazy dream of mine.
During my NYSC. I was able to save a substantial amount of money. Then few days after POP I had registered DYDY. Myself and my friend Yetunde started working on the business plan. I hired Daniel, a friend, to do my logo and business card.
I didn’t have a shop. But I was taking it a step at a time. I told Ayo, a friend f mine to print my bags and also my monogram labels. All of these came from my saved NYSC allowance and other cash gifts ( and the one I scammed my daddy to get)
It was May 15th, I released my first ever product, that was when I finally told my father what I had been up to.
I started moving from shop to shop to do my work. My mom wasn’t happy with the stress I was going through.We had an empty shop at home, with no tenant to occupy. I knew I could birth something in there. How to raise the money and step up, no idea??! My mom sold her car ( so if you see my mom jumping bus or uber and and if you’re lucky enough to sit beside that wonderful woman in public transport just know she did it for me!!)
When I told My Father I was taking the shop, he said “you know you can do better than this” But when he saw my tenacity and the fact that I was not relenting anytime soon, He became proud of the kind of daughter he had raised. He supported me, he gave me a huge sum to add to my capital ;And up until now, He still believes in the DYDY dream.
My story is just to encourage anyone out there going through tough times. in spite of whatever situation you find yourself, don’t dwell on it. Don’t allow it weigh you down. I could have whined when I had the extra year or completely given up when my dad came around but I didn’t.
And yes, I got help from other people asides my parents.
I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m still taking this journey one step at a time.
~ Omowunmi Omoseyindemi