‘We would give you world standard shoes at affordable prices’

Bamiro wondered why he should continue to make customers for shoemaker. “I was like, you as a shoemaker and I am making customers for you. Why don’t you make shoes for me and let me sell them?”

Oluwaseun Babalola Bamiro, the brain behind YNORTH Store and manufacturer of YNORTH shoes Ibadan, Oyo State, speaks to DEBO OLADIMEJI on how he started his business, why people should buy YNORTH shoes and how people can grow their businesses.

In 2010, Oluwaseun’s then girlfriend, Dorcas, who is now his wife, bought him a pair of slippers. He recalled that his friends, including some working in the banks, started to like the slippers.

So, he called the shoemaker to produce more, about 10, to meet the demands of his friends. Then his friends’ friends also wanted him to produce similar slippers for them.

Bamiro wondered why he should continue to make customers for shoemaker. “I was like, you as a shoemaker and I am making customers for you. Why don’t you make shoes for me and let me sell them?”

He recalled that the shoemaker was putting foreign labels on those slippers, but he asked the man and the man explained that if he puts his own local name on the slippers, people would not buy them.

“I said since it is made in Nigeria, why not put a Nigerian name on the slippers? I just told him that and he said Why Not? I told him we are using that name, ‘Why Not,’ henceforth for the slippers. That was how we come out with the name YNORTH.

“We just made the name more trendy. We had to increase the quality for more people to buy it and by the time we did that, we started having more clients. “When people knew that it was made in Nigeria, they wanted to price it low.”

At that point, it was very discouraging for him to go on. The next option was to reduce the quality. “But I did not want to do that. I just went straight to one of the supermarkets in Ibadan and convinced them to allow me to sell my shoes in their supermarket and I will give them commission on whatever I sold.

“They said shoes do not sell in their supermarket, but they would give it a trial. From there, we supplied to more of such stores and before you know it, we started growing,” Bamiro reminisced.

He recalled that they later went into different designs of the slippers and introduced new brands. “It is not really about the designs of the slippers, but the avenue that we created for people to actually get what they need instantly, instead of going to the market and buy it.

“People saw that what we were doing was nice and they wanted to buy slippers directly from me. So, they don’t need to go through the market. After then, we introduced many other designs. After a year, we introduced shoes.”

Six months after, the shoemaker couldn’t meet up with the demand and the branding they wanted. “He was just a local shoemaker. I attended so many seminars on entrepreneurship and branding, but he couldn’t meet up with the standard I wanted for YNORTH. So, we had to change hands.

“After sometime, we started using several shoemakers. After about two years, we started buying some machines and making the shoes in my factory and employed shoes makers.” He also had to employ some shoe designers, who did their research to know what was actually trending.

“I am using social media to follow the trends regarding the new machine shoemakers are using, the software and all other things they are using to produce a good shoe. “We also have to do a lot of research to know the designs that are moving. We asked for a lot of customers’ feedback.”

Bamiro, who holds a Diploma in Computer Science, gave reasons why he should be patronised: “We actually give you the standard you they will give you over there. “Our own is more affordable. We try as much as possible to give you what is trending at a very good price.”

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