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MUFUATU AZEEZ OLUWASEUN: SHOE MAKER/DESIGNER (ZAGGA WEARS)

So, guys we have another Shoe Maker in the House!! I don’t know how things could get any better. Azeez has been a part of the Nigerian fashion world for more than a year now, this is his story!

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Azeez was born in 1989 in his hometown Ijebu Igbo in Ogun State. Azeez attended St Johnbusto Nursery and Primary school and Deje High School both in Ijebu-Igbo. He then studied accounting at Olabisi Onabanjo University.

His mother has a business which Azeez has been a part of since age 5 so he grew up to be business-minded. Immediately after school he set out to do his own thing. He applied for jobs but things were not looking optimistic so he turned to entrepreneurship, something he was already good at.

SHOE BUSINESS

After carrying out feasibility studies, in December 2016 Azeez settled for the Shoe Business because it wouldn’t require a big capital and at the time Nigeria was in the middle of the Buy Naija Grow Naija campaign so he just tapped into the groove.

As a shoe lover with a lot of design ideas, he often cringed at the prices of Men’s shoes and since Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to make money from solving a problem, Azeez went into the business of making stylish and affordable shoes.

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Azeez works from home; he turned a room in his 3-bedroom apartment into his workshop, however, he is currently looking to expand to owning a display and retail store. For now his market is online.

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Azeez works with a partner, Ariyo Ose (@osesax) who handles social media and negotiations while Azeez concentrates on the craft. Zagga Wears also works with other social media influencers; @demolaexpoze and @ernalzz

THE ‘ZAGGA WEARS’ BRAND

Zagga Wears is registered as a Business venture with the CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission). The name Zagga is a slang coined from a famous Nigerian musician Mr Eazi, but to the team at Zagga Wears it represents trendy but affordable. For now, Zagga Wears produces Sandals, Slippers and Corporate Shoes, they only design and produce shoes for men (Size 40 being the smallest size) and Children shoes are only made on order.

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On why Zagga Wears don’t produce female footwear Azeez said;

     Honestly, ladies price Made in Naija shoes not too well. Men are more open to paying the going price.

CHALLENGES

  • Getting quality materials: To get original leather Azeez had to travel to Lagos regularly. Several months into the business he still travels once in a while but he now has suppliers that can send him leather through a road transport system.
  • Delivery: The cost of personal delivery was very high so Azeez now uses Logistics Companies. He still delivers himself within Ibadan but he has a vendor that helps with Lagos deliveries and he uses GIG Logistics for deliveries outside Lagos.
  • Pricing: Many people ask for ridiculously low prices which upset him, but now his partner, Ariyo Ose, deals with that issue by setting a base price that the shoes do not go below and pricing sizes 40 to 45 differently from sizes 46 and above.
  • Social media goodwill: It has been difficult for Zagga Wears to convince people on social media that the business is legitimate because of the many stories of scammers posing as online vendors. However, they have been able to build a good name with the help of their Influencers.

 

To make inquiries or to place orders you can reach Azeez and his team on;

  • Instagram: @ZaggaWears
  • Twitter: @ZaggaWears
  • Facebook: @ZaggaWears
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Tomiwa Femi-Philips: Shoe Maker/Designer

Hey Guys this time I’ll be introducing you to an Actual Shoe-maker. Yep! You read that right; A Shoe-Maker.

This is not a random cobbler that we erroneously call a shoe maker. No, Tomiwa Femi-Philips is a talented young man that designs and produces his shoes from scratch to finish, how amazing is that? Really amazing I’d say.

Tomiwa was born on the 21st of September in the Late 90’s. He is from Papa Ajao, Mushin Local Government in Lagos State. He also grew up in lagos, but in Egbeda and Akute in Ogun state (the new settlement close to Ojodu Berger) where he spent his early teenage years.

Tomiwa attended Maryland Convent Primary school Ikeja. For his secondary school education, he attended Woodland School, Shasha Lagos and Federal Government College, Ikirun, Osun State where he was the House Captain of Niger House (Blue-house). He then graduated from Bowen University with a degree in Computer Science.

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Shoe Designing and Production

Tomiwa started designing and making shoes about 2 months after his graduation from the University in 2016. In 2017 during his NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) he paid to learn under one Mr. Gbemi in Ibadan and also under one Mr. Abiodun in an apprentice arrangement.

Why Shoes?

Shoes are Ready-to-wear items and most importantly unlike tailoring, shos can be made in the absence of a potential customer. No need for measurements and all that’.

– Tomiwa Femi-Philips.

Asides shoe-making, Tomiwa also sells and brands imported promotional and gift items for companies. He started around October 2017.

History of FOOT NG

The name of Tomiwa’s Shoe brand is FOOT NG. The name was quick to pick because footwear can only be worn on the foot. ‘Foot’ was perfect because it is the body part closely related to Tomiwa’s work.

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Inspiration

There are no exclusive rights to designs in Nigeria so most of Tomiwa’s designs are inspired by old trends.

Collaborations

Tomiwa combines resources with other people to produce and sell the shoes and then they split the profit. He hasn’t had any full-time investors yet.

Many people are out to exploit because they believe shoe making and related stuff is for “needy” people. They come with slave deals most times. I have been offered few slave deals which I have turned down’ – Tomiwa Femi-Philips.

Fashion Shows

Tomiwa hardly has enough products to meet the demands of his customers so it’s hard to find time to make shoes specifically for modelling on a run-way. However, he is open to participate if he is informed of fashion shows months ahead of the event.

Collections

Tomiwa does not release shoes in collections because he does not want his brand to seem luxurious. He wants his shoes to be available and affordable to average people and the concept of collections will scare his target customers away. If Foot NG ever produces luxury items, affordable items would still be the main products.

Production

Tomiwa majorly makes unisex foot slides. He makes them from scratch to finish himself; he buys the materials, cuts the shapes and patterns, couples them and files them. He uses hand-operated machines to make the shoes. He makes these palm slides with leather and suede.

Tomiwa does not make high heeled shoes for women yet because of the details involved. He also does not produce children shoes because of the misconception that it ought to be cheaper because its smaller, when in fact children shoes have no standard sizes and so involve a lot of math. He only makes Children shoes on specific contracts.

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Production Venue

Tomiwa does not currently have a workshop, he either works from home or at a friend’s shop. He plans to return to school to further his studies so he is holding on before making any major moves.

Challenges

The major challenge is money to keep the business as a going concern. To deal with this Tomiwa has been applying for training programs that give a certain amount of money to aid entrepreneurs.

Another challenge was satisfying customer demands, however, I solved that problem by staying away from creating a Bespoke brand.

Many Customers want things that are not achievable. They want this place to be green, then here Yellow and there black.’- Tomiwa Femi-Philips.

Future Plans

Tomiwa would soon turn to the production of Sneakers (Follow his Social media for updates; his handles would be given at the end of this article) and Foot NG would eventually evolve into a sports brand.

He plans to return to school to study any business related course. As for his degree in Computer Science he said;

It’s B.Sc. it’s there, when I need it I’ll refer to it’.

Tomiwa delivers outside Ibadan to states across Nigeria and he also delivers to Ghana.

You can contact him on;

  • WhatsApp: +234 706 526 4559
  • Twitter: @Ftomiwar
  • Instagram: @footng or @Ftomiwarfoot

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Lari’s CAFE does not claim ownership to any of the pictures on the site except specified, all Pictures on these articles are provided by the people being interviewed.

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RUBY THE PRIESTESS: Artist, Jeweler and Model

Hello Everyone, let me introduce you to the Priestess!

Her name is Ruby Ojoma Ace Abalaka. She was born on the 8th of October 1995 on a cold stormy night! She is an Igala lady from Ofu Local government in Kogi State. She schooled at NCWS Abuja and Thomas Adewumi International College where she was a House Prefect. She then attended Afe Babalola University where she studied Media and Communications.

She is an artist, jeweler and a model; she runs an artisan gift shop in Abuja.

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History of priestess

As far back as Ruby can remember she has loved everything artistic. As a student she started making and wearing her jewelry and soon enough people labelled her as ‘the girl with modern juju bracelets and bags’. In August 2016 someone asked Ruby to make jewelry just for her, that was the beginning.

Ruby then started trying new things, she learned other forms of art which eventually carved out a particular lifestyle for her. Then her boyfriend started calling her Priestess to pull her legs but she liked the idea and went along with it because it explained the lifestyle she was trying to create.

Priestess was officially launched as a brand in 2014.

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Nature of the Priestess Brand

It is an Art Brand that creates furniture and jewelry. Sometimes Ruby makes them from the scratch or just adds her touch to ready-made pieces. When making furniture from scratch she uses ‘unconventional materials like tires; she makes stools, bean bags and benches etc. from scratch. She also picks up basic ready-made pieces like a plain bench or chair or stool.

Ruby had no formal training in jewelry-making, she learned to make jewelry from watching tutorials and other jewelers at work, she still does till date. Early 2017, she learned leather-work and basic sculpting for a few months in Kaduna.

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Inspiration

Ruby worships the story of the human race, its deep roots and how it affects the present and future. She likes surrounding herself with culture because there is always a story to tell with it; African, European and pop culture.

Collaborations

Ruby got paid to make costume jewelry for pageants; Miss ARWA (Aso Rock Women Association) 2014, Miss Achiever 2014 and 2015, Abuad’s Next Top Model (1st and 2nd Edition) and Miss Abuad 2017. She partnered with Temworks Jewelry at the debut BBQ Fest in the summer of 2016.

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Modelling Career

Ruby started modelling in SS2; Someone came to her Secondary school on visiting day and scouted her for a fashion show in Abuja (Arewa Fashion).

At first it was just a way to make a little extra money but then she started getting creative and working with different photographers for test shoots.

The first major step was in 2015 when Ruby became the face of Alien Prose Studios in Abuja (a start-up studio at the time). She then started getting jobs in school for party posters, look books and photography collaborations.

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She was the first runner up in the first and second seasons of ABUAD Next Top Model. She later competed in the first Miss ABUAD but she didn’t reach the finals.

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In 2015 to 2016 she signed a one-year contract with Uwaa modeling. After her contract ended things slowed down and she became a free-lance model.

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In 2017 she put modelling on hold but in 2018 she began negotiations with GI modelling agency. At the end of March 2018, she’ll be going to modelling camp.

Balancing careers

Art is my lifestyle and modelling is a hobby I hope to delve into later… media and communication is just a big word for creative communication.

-Ruby Ojoma Ace Abalaka ‘The Priestess’

Challenges

  • She has had a hard time explaining to people that art isn’t just an element but life itself. She said ‘Our Creator is the Master Artist; we are just Interns’.
  • Funds: There was a time Ruby was broke up to owing the bank. She complained that a lot of artists live below the standard because of that, that many artists have turned borrowers just to survive.
  • Support from Friends and Family; ‘It’s hard when nobody has the slightest idea what your bigger picture is’ – Ruby Ojoma Ace Abalaka.

When faced with these challenges Ruby simply looks on the bright side and stuffs her face with the deliciousness that Jollof rice brings.

Future plans

Ruby is working towards anchoring her own Radio and TV show soon.

She has started writing a blog series which she will launch at the end of the year (2018) titled; ‘The Confessions, Complaints and Voice overs of an Unconventional Hippie’ so, Watch Out!

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Ruby’s Advice for young artists

  1. Never forget why you started.
  2. Remember that people are waiting for you to fail so never stop doing the opposite.
  3. Always keep these privately; your finances, your love life and your next move.
  4. There is a God out there and he’s more than capable to put you here you want to be so ask him to.

Her Social Media

  • Instagram: @rubiee_007
  • Twitter: @rubiee_007