Hey Smartpreneurs! We had an amazing IG Live session this week, with OAP and entrepreneur, Gbemi Olateru Olagbegi.
Gbemi Olateru Olagbegi is a popularly known media personality who has enjoyed a successful career filled with accolades and recognition. She has been listed as one of the 10 most powerful people in media under 40 in Nigeria. She is the founder and CEO of ‘Gbemisoke’ shoes a brand that produces affordable, comfortable and stylish shoes for women. Gbemi ventured into shoe business because of her own personal struggles with getting the perfect shoes. She succeeded and went on to launch the heels range of her product line.
Gbemi is also the CEO of Speakerboxx Productions and part of off air show with her colleague in the media industry, Toolz.
The conversation of this session was themed My Entrepreneurship Experience .
On how she began her shoe business:
“While I was in the US, I realised it was really hard to find my shoe size. I wear a US size 11 which is a 43. A lot of times it was difficult. Then I started to buy like a lot of shoes for myself. I don’t even like orange but if I found this pair of shoes that was orange, I was just going to buy it then later figure out how to put it together with my wardrobe. Eventually, I started thinking why can’t I get extra shoes and pretty much sell to other women? That was how I began to sell shoes in the first place. It wasn’t even Gbemisoke shoes or anything. Then I started ordering from websites. Instagram was not a big thing then so I would post photos on Facebook and attach a number for people to order. Then I started nursing the idea of having my own shoe line and I looked around and there weren’t a lot of Nigerian shoe brands. What you would see were slippers and flat shoes none were particularly stylish shoes to wear out. So I did a lot of research for a year or two and eventually Gbemisoke shoes was born in 2015. An official launch was done in 2016, a year after because I didn’t want to celebrate anything because I wasn’t sure if it would work and even when I got my first shipment of Gbemisoke shoes, I didn’t have a lot of money no one gave me money and I cleared my account to see how the business goes. When I received the first shipment of shoes in February 2015, I just left them, I kept some in my house, some in my parent’s house and some in a friend’s house and I just left them there because I was afraid. Then in April, I started talking to friends and they were like how can you have hundreds of shoes and do nothing with them? You can’t waste your money. So I had a friend design a logo. I had another friend to look at the logo and vet it, another friend organised a photoshoot and all this time there was no name because I had not figured out what I was doing. Eventually I put some of the shoes in some online stores, the e-commerce platform and also reached out to friends for publicity and boom! Gbemisoke shoes was born and here we are five years after”
On how her recognition has impacted her business:
“Launching Gbemisoke shoes, i did not just want to assume that because people know me or my name, they would just fly off the shelf but it definitely did help in terms of awareness. Also, in a way people thought because I’m popular and because I’m trying to start a business everything I’m going to be selling is going to be luxury and expensive. Our most expensive pair of shoes right now is sixteen thousand Naira and I did it that way because honestly, 90% of people in this country are not wealthy. I wanted to appeal to a bigger market. The original plan was that no pair of shoes will cost more than ten thousand Naira but also note that at the end of 2015 into 2016, the Dollar to Naira rate increased so that changed a few things in terms of pricing. Being popular or having a known name did help though”
This article has been slightly edited for clarity sake.
Watch full interview here: