Nkiru Emodi is the CEO of Home of Theresa (HOT) Wears in Ikorodu, Lagos. She makes shoes for men and women. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in Accounting from the University of Benin. Upon graduation from University in 2010, she discovered her talent and pursued it tenaciously. In 2013, she went into it fully and has never looked back since then. She tells GERALDINE AKUTU why she left accounting for shoe-making.
What brought you into shoemaking?
Difficulty and challenges securing a job after school and at the same time I didn’t want to stay idle, so I thought it wise to do business but didn’t know the kind or type of business to do. I was totally confused, and then I went on a business research, started asking questions but really couldn’t find the answer to my problem. I had to ask myself some vital questions, which the answer to the third question gave birth to today’s reality. What do I spend my money on when it comes to getting gifts for myself? The answer was leather footwear. So, I decided go into buying and selling of leather footwear but then where is the capital to start up a business as this. I went out to meet people (aunties, uncles, friends etc) to talk about the idea of the business and also ask for loan to start-up. To my greatest surprise, majority turned me down saying I should go and get a job, work for a period of time before thinking of doing business. But as God would have it, just one man saw the business idea as “great” and said to me, “I do not have fish to give you but I will teach you how to fish.”
I was so willing and determined to learn how to fish. His two hours lecture and advice sharpened and molded my mind into creating and designing foot- wear myself with my logo branded on my footwear. It was not very challenging and difficult learning how shoes were made by destroying most of my late mother’s shoes and few of mine, just to get knowledge on how shoes were made. I went out of my comfort zone to ask questions at a nearby cobbler’s shop, who is late now, to get more understanding on what I was about going into, I had bruises on my hands, my finger nails got broken, I got nauseated using chemical gums to work. At some point, I wanted to give up but I would remember the wise words spoken to me and the encouragements. My mantra became, “I Can Do This”. As time went by I started discovering some hidden talent I never knew I had, talents like sketching; I saw myself doing that freely. I fell in love with creating and designing footwear when I brought my first sketched design to reality, my passion grew as the day went by which made me derive so much joy in shoe making.
How long have you been doing this?
Since 2013 till date, but officially became a brand name on May 29, 2014 which happened to be my first ever major shoe expo exhibition at the Silver Bird Art Trem in Lagos.
What were your initial challenges when you started and how were you able to surmount them?
My initial challenge when I first started was money, capital for start-up, which covers a whole lot. Also materials for production and publicity, which is still a challenge till date. All other challenges are secondary. I was able to surmount at the early start just to bring my dreams to reality by selling some of my belongings and savings just to raise capital. My father, siblings and few friends who believed in me helped me with money in their own little way of which I was able to raise N90, 000. I then channeled the money into good use and also was able to produce 13 pairs of footwear- slippers and sandals for male and female.
Who are your clients?
My clients are male and female lovers of bespoke handmade footwear, big size feet individuals who can’t get their sizes but want some beautiful and lovely footwear. Funny enough, I have made a size- 52 loafers for a client of mine, he was extremely excited and grateful.
What makes HOT Wears unique?
HOT Wears is unique with her style, creative abilities with footwear design and Hot Wear does shoe repairs, too.
How affordable are your footwear?
Bespoke handmade footwear from HOT Wears are quite affordable and durable. Prices ranges from N10,000 and above for women and N18,000 and above for men, depending on the materials used, colour choice and design. Basically, it’s all about the client’s choice.
Where do you source materials from?
I source materials mainly from Mushin market in Lagos.
What is your take on the Nigerian fashion industry?
We are growing and spreading very fast with our creativity, which is beyond human imaginations. Our industry is filled with very creative people who are doing wonderfully well.
Credit: Guardian Woman