In an interview with one of our investigative journalist, Ethelbert Obinna Umeh, the celebrity female graduate shoemaker barred her mind on sundry issues surrounding her entrepreneurial journey, and life challenges. It is rich in content.
Below are excerpts:
1. Who is Michelle Ekure?
Michelle Ekure is a beautiful, young Nigerian from the South South, precisely Delta State, last child of 8 children of Mr and Mrs Ekure. I am an entrepreneur, God fearing, passionate, reserved, energetic, goal-driven, resilient and hard working.
I had my early education in Delta State and went to Edo State for my Degree. I am one of the new faces of women thriving in the “so-called” male occupation or industry.
2. You are a diplomat by training, why did you venture into shoemaking business?
Sincerely it wasn’t an easy decision to make, my initial path and approach to my career was finishing up my tertiary education and getting a job to help build my experience and boost my CV, but landing that job wasn’t forth coming, and then nepotism being the order of the day, I wasn’t getting anywhere.
There is always that point in everyone’s life when you search your soul to find answers, and this I did diligently and sampling opinions from family and friends, and as a lover of fashion, and art and an ex model, I decided to give more time to this part of me that wanted to explore uncharted waters.
Shoemaking was not the first to come to mind but I was more exposed to it after I started off by first designing styles and followed up by learning to create my designs and from there it blossomed. I took the first step which was learning the craft from a small time cobbler and discovered that I was a natural, and continued polishing my skills and have not stopped till date.
3. Have you wanted to be an entrepreneur or did you venture into it as a result of joblessness?
I have wanted to be an entrepreneur, but sincerely not the way it ended up happening; the plan originally was to work for a given period and while at it I would make out time for business and eventually transition fully, but I would say I owe the dogmatic approach I gave entrepreneurship to the economic situation I was faced with, as this was a wakeup call for me, so I will not say I ventured into it, it was rather a calculated risk.
4. How much did you use to kick-start your shoemaking business?
Shoemaking initially was more of an art work, I loved positive feedbacks and admiration for my work when I made shoes for friends and family, I used to use monetary gifts from friends and family members to buy materials and make shoes and give back as gifts or sometimes sell them.
so putting a figure to how much I used in starting the business is a difficult one, but from when I went fully commercial I started with over 400 thousand because I needed to get a place to stay and use as my workshop as well and also buy materials for the first sets of products and courier costs to get products to my customers
5. How do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? If you see a paid job, will you accept?
As an entrepreneur I am beginning to feel a sense of fulfilment knowing I made the right choice pursuing my passion and gradually giving back to the society so quickly by training young individuals, who want to pursue their creativity passion and should I be empowered even more I believe I have the potential to do great because I have only just started for a few years and see where I am today.
And you sure know the big names in the shoe industry have got some real number of years and experience on their belt and I don’t intend to spend that much time to even becomes a big name in the shoe and leather product industry.
As concerning if I will accept a paid job, I will say if that paid job is with a shoe manufacturer or leather product company and I would be made a partner, then I can accept, so my ideas and creations will still be relevant and I would be living my dream pursuing my passion in a grand style, otherwise I would rather be my own boss and nurture this little business of mine and gradually learn innovative ways of becoming a contending force in this market overtime.
6. You are in a profession that is dominated by male folk, how do you feel seeing yourself in it?
Gender has no role when it comes to chasing your dream and being artistic, but I owe much of my bravery to the how I grew up. The larger part of my teenage years I acted like a guy so I guess it even tamed my fears and encouraged me.
I am even more in touch with my femininity now than ever but when I am in work mode I don’t know what gender I am in touch with, and this has been my driving force, but more importantly personal motivation has made me rise above my fears and any form of gender bias.
7. What advice do you have for your fans?
I want to say to all the youths and even the older folks that going forward we all have to remain hard working, diligent and persistent in our pursuit for financial independence and reduce over dependence on the government, acquire every necessary skill to be of service to our neighbor and mankind, from there you can be unique in your own presentation of that service.
We are all gifted but how deep have we searched to know what we are made of, if we can find and answer then we are on the right step to becoming the next big thing this country has always needed.