Back in the days, graduates who aced their studies literally got begged with prolific job offers due to the booming economic state of Nigeria.
In recent times, the decline in the economic state of the country has led Nigerians to venture into alternative sources of income, with a steady rise in the acquisition of knowledge of crafts, creative works and informal trades without any restriction to gender; we now have both gender as auto-mechanics, hair stylists, fashion designers, bus drivers and other occupations with both outperforming each other. To this end, some graduates now arm themselves with these alternative skills to combat the looming “potential” unemployment which they face from the job market.
Our Aspire candidate, Michelle Ekure, was born into an average family in Eku Delta state, she is a graduate of International Relations and Diplomacy. During her six years of job searching, she applied for so many jobs that at a point she had sent 65 application messages to different organizations in Nigeria seeking for employment. Michelle eventually got a job as a marketer which brought her to Lagos, but within a short while of working for the agency, she quit her job due to the incessant payment of her salary.
Instead of going into any disreputable business in order to make earns meet, she prayed to God for direction and due to her passion for shoes, she started retailing shoes and sandals from a shoe company in Lagos. Michelle realized she was spending so much on buying the shoes as it affected the selling price of the shoes. so, she asked if the company could produce her own branded bespoke shoes which they acceded to. This was conceptualization of her own shoe brand.
She was later on introduced to a shoe Maker by her friend who started making the shoes for her. she watched the shoe maker as he made the shoes and she was fascinated by the creativity and hard work that went into making a pair of shoes. For her enthusiasm and fascination, she asked the shoemaker to learn the art of shoe Making. He initially reclined on the premise that she would be slow to learn being an “Ajebutter”, However to his surprise, she learnt really fast and she became really good at it.
Michelle gets her inspiration from Italian shoes, bags, magazines and fashion icons. she looks at the Italian shoes and attempts to decipher how their designs and seams are done in order to replicate them. Within 5 years of her shoe business, Michelle has been able to deliver 50 pairs of shoes every week, she currently coaches 6 apprentices on the art f shoe making. Michelle’s direct market is the middle-class and high class owing to strength of her brand and quality of her shoes.
Michelle’s business currently faces challenges with increasing cost of shoe-production equipment which has directly affected the cost of her shoes. Her business also faces the generic perception that Nigerian-made products are of sub-standard or “Aba-made” and thus cannot survive long-usage nor compete with their foreign counterparts. Michelle has however built and sustained her brand up to a relative international brand.
Michelle is now an international sensation, a topic of interest for various magazines. She has made a name for herself in the Nigerian shoe industry.
Amidst the ‘CHANGE’ and the current blaming of the government for the decline in employment, increase in poverty and the foreign exchange rate, some Nigerians are making use of the available resources and their God given talent to stand out and make a name for themselves.
As the bible says “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men”. Michelle’s gift, passion and determination has helped her to make a name for herself and has placed her before great people.
We present to you Michelle Ekure the female Nigerian female shoe maker.
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