BusinessDay

Meet Omirin Aderinsola, a creative footwear manufacturer

Omirin Aderinsola is the chief executive officer of Solasoles – a Nigerian handmade footwear brand that operates in the Lagos metropolitan.

Aderinsola was inspired to establish Solasoles by her love for sandals and by a statement of Bishop David Oyedepo the chancellor, and Covenant University which was urging young people to be responsible for the outcome of their lives.

She was also inspired by Michelle Obama, Bishop TD Jakes, Tara Durotoye, Ibukun Awosika, and Nelly Agbogu, her coaches.

She started her business in 2018 while still an undergraduate using her money for upkeep and support from her parent to kick-start the business.

She acquired the necessary skills in sandal making through online training.

“I started my business four years ago, 2018 when I was in 200 level. At that time, I had to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to approach a business like mine,” she says.

“I sourced necessary materials through books, videos, and online courses. I worked in the footsteps of experienced people in my field, investing in myself,” Aderinsola says.

Since starting, the business has grown steadily and is now distributed across the country. “By 18, I became a millionaire. At 400 level, my products had been shipped to the 36 states of Nigeria, including the federal capital territory and internationally,” she notes.

She adds that consistency is what has helped the business scale quickly.

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Responding to questions on the business plans, she says Solasoles plans to expand its operation in the short run and the long run establish a footwear factory.

In addition, Aderinsola says she aims to have branches in different parts of the country.

To support other early-stage businesses, the young entrepreneur launched the ‘start-up space’ initiative last year.

The programme, according to her was initiated to get university entrepreneurs to share their experiences so others can learn.

She notes that with the unemployment rate at 33.3 percent, the programme is structured to support other entrepreneurs that can help tackle the country’s high unemployment rate.

She states that since she opened her business website in July 2020, the company has had over 17,000 sessions since then from different parts of Nigeria and abroad.

Speaking on the major challenges that confronted the business, Aderinsola says combining schooling and business was a major challenge that limited the business.

“Balancing my business and school work was also a challenge. In Covenant University, we do not use phones and we hardly leave the school, which contributed to the challenges I faced.”

“To figure this out, I had to involve my elder sister to assist me in receiving orders, email, shipping and other vital activities in the business,” the entrepreneur says.

Also, she says FX volatility is another challenge facing the business, as she imports some of her raw materials aboard.

To address the issue around FX, she says her business now purchases 100percent of its raw material locally, noting it has helped remove the pressure of sourcing FX on the business.

On her advice to other entrepreneurs, she says, “Find what works for you. The environment is saturated with copycats.”

“You have to learn how to distinguish yourself. Try to identify what works for you. Identify your strength and weaknesses,” she says.

“Surround yourself with people that will support your vision and have the same taste of interest. Your circles matter a lot. Everyone has 24 hours, but what matters the most is how you use it,” she adds.

“Study the captains in your industry,” she advises.

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