I have always had a love for shoes dating as far back as 21 years ago. As a little boy living with 9 other siblings as well as cousins, half-brothers and half-sisters, I was quite restless growing up and my mum decided and ensured that I polished everyone’s school sandals which used to be about 20 pairs in total. That was a blessing in disguise because it helped me to realize my love for shoemaking quite early.
I also had issues with my late father because I became a Christian in a family that is known for Islam. My dad ensured that I didn’t enjoy some luxuries of life and that motivated me to start my own business as a plan for my future and to affect lives. This is one of the reasons Shoespeed Academy has trained over 1000 shoemakers in the last 9 years.
Shoespeed started with a friend and school mate – Dapo Oduba in 2003 and was incorporated in 2005. Our initial intention was to import shoes from the USA for sale and this we tried in our first 2 years of operations. Our first consignment from the USA was 2 pairs of shoes which took us over 1 year to sell. We brought subsequent orders from the US-based on pre-orders. We started making money using that model until we lost a large consignment in transit to theft. We resorted to setting up a shoe manufacturing outfit and registered the company as a Limited Liability Company in 2005.
I later decided to learn, from a roadside shoemaker, the art of shoemaking and the same person helped me purchase our start-up equipment with an initial capital of about N12,500. We started making slippers and sandals before we evolved into making shoes and other accessories like wallets, belts and bags.
In business, I have learnt:
- To have staying power in all I do
- Building healthy relationships is a lifeline for any business
- Both smart and hard work can never be underrated
- Do not incur expenses in business just to impress people
- In building your client base, never allow any customer to constitute more than 5% of your revenue per time. If not, they will soon become your god
- Don’t start any business if you don’t believe in NIGERIA for, “if you believe in the land, you will eat the fruit thereof”
This is also my advice to startups. Cut down on your expenses and maximize your profits.
As a person, I am a Shoemaker, I am proud to be one, I daily improve on my skills and try to improve the lives of others and mine, so help me God.
My name is Abiodun Folawiyo, I am the CEO of ShoeSpeed.