There is no doubt that Nigerians are creative and intelligent humans, but graduates’ struggle to get a good job has made many jobless and some idle.
However, a young Nigerian lady, Mustapha Taofeeqah Feyintola, refused to give up but made ‘gold out of dust,’ picking up a craft that many her age and gender would shy away from.
Mustapha Taofeeqah Feyintola holds a degree in Chemistry from Olabisi Onabanjo University but decided to think out of the box by becoming a shoemaker with class.
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During an exclusive interview with Battabox.com, Taofiqoh explained to Adedoyin Adebisi all the challenges she had encountered on her journey towards building a career as a shoemaker.
How it started
The female shoemaker explained to our correspondent that she started the business as a joke. She said she began considering her career after she finished her compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
According to her, she had difficulties securing employment and decided that she didn’t want to remain a burden to her parents. Hence, she chose to speak with her friend, who was a shoemaker and pleaded that he teaches her.
Her friend thought she was pulling his legs at her uncanny request but later agreed and put her through, and that was how Taofeeqah started her journey into making quality shoes.
How did you accumulate capital for your business?
Taofeeqah, who has a flair for saving right from when she was young, had no problem saving while serving. United Bank of Africa (UBA) introduced a platform for all NYSC members where they could save with them and withdraw their savings after their service year.
She explained that she was one of the people who decided to save with them, and she saved N10,000 every month from the N19,800 salary she received from the government.
“UBA told us we can save some certain amount and then we cash out after youth service, I was saving N10,000 out of my N19,800 because I used to get N3000 from my PPA (Primary Place of Assignment), I was able to save for 10 months,” she said.
Taofeeqah asserted that at that time, she had no idea that she would end up doing what she finds herself doing now, adding that she just loved saving and just saved.
How did you manage the little you saved up?
With N100,000, the young lady went out to the world just like every Nigerian to solicit a place and a stand for herself in life. The money she saved helped her pay her training fee and get some basic machines she uses in her shoe business.
“I got my first stamping and filling machine from the money, it was easy then because all these things were not expensive as it is now,” she said
She mentioned that her mum had an abandoned shop, so she used the shop to carry out her production. The multi-talented lady explained that she painted the shop, did the carpentry and did several other things herself while she was setting up, requiring little or no money at all.
“I am not extraordinary but if I don’t do these things myself who will? I try as much as possible not to depend on people,” she stated.
Was there any time you wanted to give up
Taofeeqah revealed how it crossed her mind several times to do something else because it hardly yielded any profit when she first started shoemaking.
However, she stressed how her family and friends were there for her, adding that the wonderful man she sees as a father figure in her life helped and supported her business by encouraging her and recommending her shoes to his friends and colleagues at work.
She added that one of her seniors in school was the one who gave her a little motivation because he gave her the first big project she did when she started the business.
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Materials for shoemaking
Taofeeqah gets her materials from Lagos and walked us through some of the things she uses to carry out a good production. According to her, a sole (the undersurface of a shoe) is very important and has several types.
Leather is also needed for the outer layer of the shoe and is sometimes always used for the shoe’s lining. Then, the gum is used to ensure the sole and leather are sturdy; Taofeeqah lectured that gum has to be used in every shoe.
She added that thread, scissors, a hammer and several other things are needed to make a shoe. She uses machines for effectiveness and speedy production, some of which are stamping machines and filling machines.
A stamping machine is used for forming articles of hard materials, such as metal, whether for the first rough shaping or decorative finishing of a shoe. Also, a filling machine is used to fill the surface of the sole with a layer of agglomerated cork after welting.
Every business must go through challenges to get stronger; after all, Roger Crawford once said being challenged in life is inevitable; being defeated is optional.
Well, Toafiqoh, just like every business owner, has challenges. She shared that her business is doing well and fine to the glory of God; however, she is not devoid of some obstacles.
The young woman explained that her only major challenge is that she is short of tools and machines that would make her work faster and neater.
How it’s going (plans and relationship)
Taofeeqah has been in the shoemaking business for a good five years, and her shop is located Opposite Sagun school gate, Sagun, Oru Ijebu, Ogun state. She has several accounts on social media to display her shoes and delivers her shoemaking craft to her customers both near and far.
The lady shoemaker shared that she has plans for her business, especially getting the necessary machines and tools. To achieve her plans, she has applied for grants which have unfortunately not yielded a satisfactory result, but she’s however still pushing it.
Taofiqoh said she still loves saving and has been doing it since she started her business. “I’ve applied for grants, i work for my money I’m not lucky with grants. I’m also saving; I will keep putting my products out there,” she said.
The young lady is confident and sure that she will get to her promised land by God’s grace if she keeps doing what she does.
As for relationships, Taofiqah shared that she is still single and hates any distraction from unserious men; she, however, revealed to our correspondent that she is trying to find her golden fish among the options she has.
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Mustapha Taofiqah Feyintola is doing very well in her business and has assured that shoemaking is indeed a profitable business as long as you cut your coat according to your size, just like she’s doing and put a stop to all unnecessary spending.
You can reach her on Twitter; @Pheeqah_f, Instagram; @pheeqah_collections, Facebook; @pheeqah_collections and TikTok @pheeqah_f