Ezra Footwears was founded by Kene Okafor,who studied Mechanical Engineering at Landmark University, Kwara State. He talks to Connect Nigeria about raising capital and what is important in growing a business.
CN: Why did you decide to start a business, and why footwear?
I started a business mainly because I wanted to raise income to add value to myself. EZRA Footwears wasn’t my first business. I’ve always had a thing for good shoes but wasn’t really able to get what I wanted at the markets, so I started getting training on shoe making and also doing online research about footwear production.
CN: How would you describe your ideal customer?
My ideal customer is a customer that is patient and trusts the process. Usually, a lot of Nigerians by default expect the worst from Nigerian businesses, so they tend to give you a tougher time working with them.
CN: What kind of training did you receive for this line of work?
Honestly, the internet (YouTube specifically) helps. In the course of my training, I figured out that the teacher himself didn’t know the “why” of a lot of steps taken in footwear production. So I sourced for technical help from the internet and physical help from my teacher who happened to be a friend I’ve known for a lot of years.
CN: How did you raise capital to start your business?
I raised capital from my digital marketing business back then; my major field is video production and graphic designing. While I was a student I was getting a lot of video jobs, mainly explainer videos for companies, and I kept saving the money until it was enough for me to start up the factory.
CN: How do you market and create visibility for your business?
The major marketing for my business is social media. Without social media, there would be no business. A lot of people still underestimate the value of this social media that has been given to us for free. It’s left to us to explore, to meet people, and find out what value we can exchange with one another.
CN: What advice do you wish someone had given you as an undergraduate?
To save more money!
CN: What is your unique selling point and why should Nigerians choose Ezra Footwears over competitors?
Attention to detail, stitching, finishing. These have always been the reasons why most customers prefer the EZRA brand. Every brogued hole, every stitch has been calculated to run smoothly around the footwear with a lot of precision.
CN: Which professionals inspire you, and why?
My dad; the way he turns nothing to something always comes as a shock. Sometimes I wonder if there’s anything he can’t do. He’s always been my inspiration, his words bring life to ideas. And he’s always there to offer support no matter how crazy the idea might seem.
CN: Which books have changed your life?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
CN: What is your long-term vision for Ezra Footwears?
I have plans to bring the brand to compete with foreign brands. Growth takes time, but most times it’s not about how fast you get there but that one got there the proper way.
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