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How I weathered challenges to become ‘celebrity shoemaker’ – Zainab Ayomide

Alayande Zainab Ayomide, popularly known as the celebrity shoemaker is the Chief Executive Officer of Zeinny Crafts – a brand dedicated to making shoes, leather…

Alayande Zainab Ayomide, popularly known as the celebrity shoemaker is the Chief Executive Officer of Zeinny Crafts – a brand dedicated to making shoes, leather jackets, bags, belts, wallets, bracelets, and leather fashion products. Born without a silver spoon and raised by a single mother did not stop her from pursuing her dreams as she narrated in this interview.

Brief history

My name is Alayande Zainab Ayomide. I’m the first female of my parents, the 2nd child of my mom.

I attended boarding school during my primary school days at Bufetola Children School. Thereafter, I proceeded to Dee Ultimate Comprehensive High School where I had my secondary school education. I had my National Diploma at Yabatech, where I studied Polymer Technology, before proceeding to the University of Lagos, where I studied Cell Biology and Genetics. In between, I wrote jamb for five consecutive years. I actually sponsored myself throughout the period of writing of Jamb and also my years in UNILAG.

What was growing up like for you?

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. In fact, my siblings and I are proof that a single mother can successfully raise children to be God-fearing, determined and successful. My mum single-handedly raised five of us.

We hustled from living with my grandma in her store, squatting with friends, to selling clothes by the road side where KAI (Kick against Indiscipline) officials always came to disturb us, pack our products without returning them completely even after paying huge amount of money to get them back. We had a lot of challenges growing up. However, all these helped shape me into being a strong-willed and determined person.

I remembered a time when my elder brother and I were sent out of school for a full term. We would put on our uniform, leave the house early in the morning and stay at the school gate while our mates were in class. At the close of school, we would leave for home because our mom couldn’t afford our school fees.

How did you pick up the leatherwork craft?

I have been a shoemaker for over 18 years. My love for unique, quality bespoke products as well as my never-dying motive to set an outstanding pace, changing the narrative of the girl child, and many more inspired my going into shoe making.

I’ve been a shoe maker unofficially for 18 years now, and officially for 6 years.

Tell us about your brand, Zeinny Crafts

We are in the leather fashion industry. Our products vary from shoes, leather jackets, bags, belts, wallets, bracelets, to leather fashion products. We set the trend in the leather fashion industry for others to emulate.

What are the challenges you have faced since launching your brand?

Every business has its peculiar challenges and shoe making isn’t an exception. Some of the challenges we face include: funding, there are so many great things to achieve once we have access to funding. You know, we’ll be able to get some required machines, equipment and instruments for shoe making and leather works which would in turn affect the overall output of our products.

The cost of production is also a major challenge for us. The cost of materials keeps going up daily and customers want to get quality products at a very cheap rate.

To be candid, Nigeria’s environment isn’t so encouraging to entrepreneurs generally and me as a person, I don’t allow anything, regardless of how challenging it can be, to debar me from attaining my goals.

Do you have any other business apart from shoemaking?

Apart from shoe making, I have a media brand and I manage them so well, God helping me.

How does the constant fall of the naira affect your business?

It has a negative effect on our business because the prices of materials keep skyrocketing and you know, we can’t just keep on increasing prices of products the way the cost of production keeps rising.

Will you say your brand has evolved in the last 6 years?

I’m not where I used to be and I’m not where I am going yet. However, I’m on the right road map to achieving the global dream of taking Zeinny Crafts to the level of Gucci. We are going to be associated with the best and we are going to stand out.

In the next five years, what goals have you set to achieve through your brand?

In the next five years by God’s grace, we are going to have a global representation across Nigeria in at least 30 states, strong representation in countries across Africa and also in major western countries (nothing less than 10) by God’s grace.

What word of advice do you have for other female shoemakers coming behind?

A word of advice I’ll love to drop is: follow your dreams! Even if no one believes in it, remember it’s your dream and not theirs.

When I wanted to learn shoe making, no one was in support, not even my parents. But now, everyone is proud to be associated with the ‘number one lady shoe maker in Africa’, Zeinny the celebrity shoe maker.

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