Raufu Ayowunmi Aishat is a young, focused female shoemaker. After graduating from the university and was jobless, she went to acquire skills in shoe making. Ever since, she hasn’t looked back, and she is proud of her profession and waxing strong. Aishat is the CEO and Creative Director of Aeesha Shoes, her shoe-making company.In this interview with Women Of Rubies, Aishat talks about some of the challenges she has faced, as a female shoemaker.
As a kid, I always wanted to become a professional banker, but while growing up, I wasn’t pleased with the profession anymore. Being a shoemaker was developed out of joblessness. While on long holiday from school, I had always wanted to learn a skill and make-up artistry was what I loved and wanted to do, but my cousin advised that I did something else. So, I went through the skill acquisition list and ticked shoe making, considering the fact that I love shoes. And that was how I went from basic to advance, and from advance to being a shoemaker.
I am from a family of six. I’m from Irepolodun Local Government Area in Kwara State, but born and bred in Lagos. I am 24 years old. I studied Public Administration in the university. I started my business, Aeesha Shoes, five and half years ago.
Hmmm, joblessness inspired me to be a shoemaker. I never would have thought I would ever become a shoemaker, if I were not jobless. More so, my love for shoes kept me in the business. At first, I was doing it for the money, but I got to realise my love for shoes was more than the money I was making from the business.
Clients, individuals, friends, and family’s words of encouragement motivate me to do more. My love for leather also does. Whenever I see a piece of leather in the market, the next thing that comes to my mind is what I can produce with it.
Other projects and activities
Very soon, I intend training school kids on how to make shoes. It’s going to be conducted during the summer class and it’s going to be few days training on the basics of shoe making. Also, I’m looking at bringing in machines from Italy and China to further assist the brand in the production of shoes.
The industry is daily growing wider, and we are still making shoes with our hands. I think we should have gone further than that. If we had machines, we would be able to perfect what we do and be able to produce more, in terms of quality, quantity, and perfection.
On giving up
I had given up several times, but salary jobs usually pushed me back. In between running the business, I did some salary jobs. But anytime my boss messed me up at work, I would resign and pick up my business again. It happened like thrice before I finally settled down to my business.
One of the major challenges is getting an investor. It amazes me that in this generation of ours, some people will tell you that they don’t or cannot invest in a shoemaker because she is a woman or they cannot invest in you because you refuse to sleep with them. Another major challenge is clients. There are some understanding clients and there are some that choose not to understand.
Encouragement and positive clients’ feed backs. Those are my greatest reward in the business. I love seeing my clients smile and happy after collecting their products.
Nigerians reactions to women in male-dominated fields
Nigerians are now accepting and respecting women in male dominated fields. You needed to see the way people hold me in high esteem, when I showcase what I produce or when I introduce myself as a female shoemaker, at a gathering. That is the part of the profession that I love the most (laughs)
I Am A Woman Of Rubies
I am young, creative, and I inspire people.
Final words of advice
Be consistent in everything you do and be your best because that is what will take you places.