Temitayo Ayeni’s desire to ensure Nigerians need not go to Italy and Spain to get quality clothing accessories inspired her to start production of custom-made shoes, bags and so on. She speaks on how she started My Rachels Accesories in this interview with OLUYINKA ALAWODE
My Rachels Accessories and Souvenirs produces custom-made shoes, bags, belts, souvenirs etc. We make the accessories according to customers’ orders and also ready-made. Our products cater to the needs of trendy people who are looking for accessories of international standards, to individuals and corporate organisations who want to give souvenirs and to those who may have a problem getting their unique shoe sizes in the market. I started about seven years ago.
I bagged my first degree in microbiology from the University of Lagos . Afterwards, I proceeded to University of Greenwich, United Kingdom where I obtained my second degree in environmental conservation and management.
As a child, I used to draw different designs and make all sorts of crafts. So I knew I had a flare for designing. Between my first degree and second degree, I learnt basic tailoring. When I returned from the UK, I just decided to start a business around my fashion interests. Instead of going into clothmaking, I opted for a more specialised area.
My workers are craftsmen and getting them to produce quality products of international standards and meet deadlines can be very challenging. Also, sourcing for materials with the quality that are high enough for the products that we produce can be tasking.
We spend so much on fuel to power generator to get the work done. All these increase the overhead and it is not easy getting some customers to understand the effort that go into making these custom-made stuff to justify the prices being charged. But in spite of all these challenges, there is no going back. Nigerians have realised that some products they travel abroad to buy are now available here and their quality is no less.
Most of the products we make currently are on orders. Though custom-made products should not be mass-produced, at least large numbers can be made so that people can come in and buy them off the shelves. Hence my plan for a showroom in Lagos. Based on popular demands, I do training. I want the training to be well-structured so young people can be empowered to start their own businesses.
I keep ensuring that our quality standards are not compromised so that people would not have to go to Italy or Spain to buy these things. The added advantage is that they are even having them made to their own taste and needs here in Nigeria.
The business is very rewarding but demands a lot of commitment. So if one decides to go into business, the determination must be strong. There would definitely be lots of obstacles. So I advice: Set your goals and work towards it. If you are sure it is what you want, keep at it and eventually you will get to where you want to be. Just keep moving, every step you take brings you one step closer to your dream.
I started with just N10, 000 which I took to the market and bought two different designs of an African fabric. I did my first samples and people who saw them were really appreciative. So I got the encouragement to continue. Whenever I make sales, I reinvest in the business. The direct material capital has been growing and has increased to millions of naira.
Paying staff has not been a challenge because they are paid on contractual basis-per items made. It would really be good to have a major means of having new businesses funded so that people with good ideas can actually get funds to actualise those ideas. I started operating the business in Abeokuta. Now we have a place in Gbagada Phase 1, Oguntonna Crescent, Lagos where customers can easily come in to make orders or purchases.