The Quintessential Lady Cobbler

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Zainab Alayande

Ugo Aliogo writes about an exceptional lady cobbler who is making remarkable breakthrough in producing beautifully handmade footwears, bags and belt

I first heard of Zeinny Crafts from a friend who is a lover of quality footwears. He didn’t talk much about the brand, but advised me to check it up online, through the brand’s Instagram handle. Zeinny Crafts is one of the bespoke shoe brands with core focus in making quality male and female shoes, bags, belt and leather products.

The brand was setup by a young lady named Zainab Alayande in 2016 to help meet the demand for quality footwears for the working class and students alike at an affordable price. Before proceeding to Yaba College of Technology, to study Polymer Technology, Alayande had started learning shoe making business, though not giving it much attention because of other pressing engagements.

Therefore in a bid to understand the business better she decided to enroll for a training course at a vocational school.

At the vocational school, she was exposed to the nitty-gritty of the business, and the training she received there helped in understanding some complexities in producing quality designs and good finishing.

“Zeinny Crafts is a bespoke shoe brand that derives joy in creativity, standard and quality. One thing you will when you see the brand Zeinny Crafts is Customers Interest. So, I like I said earlier, I have always got my hands on foot wears subconsciously since I was young. I could remember at between the ages of seven, and eight, my older brother and myself did produce a paper slippers that we wore and it would last for two, or three days,” she noted.

The training gained at the vocational has helped Alayande to understand the market, and the business properly. Moreover, through increased interactions with different clients, she has got a deep understanding of brand positioning and how to apply it into her brand.

According to her, Nigerians have made remark efforts in embracing home-made foot wears compared with years back. She said some people prefer getting made in Nigeria footwear for various reasons, such as affordability, brand loyalty, scarcity of size and some wants to bring their imagination into reality. She added that local made shoes have increased brand competitiveness than foreign made.

“We are moving and by God’s grace we are going to move fast, better than we have ever envisaged for the brand. With over our three years of existence we have been able to record thousands of sales of our products not just our foot wears because we deal in leather products generally which includes belts, bags, purse and others. We also have a school were we train people who want learn shoe making it is Zeinny Crafts Shoe School,” she noted.

Regarding the financing of the business, she hinted that the business has not benefited from any form of loan, or grant, stating that aside from the loan and cash gift that comes from her mother which is the only financial support.

The target markets for the brand are fashionistas, individuals in the corporate world and others. The focus of the brand is to drive the made in Nigeria initiative and ensure that people have access to quality footwears at affordable prices compared to foreign made which is usually expensive.

According to her, “One of the challenges we have faced is accessibility of funds which has a huge impact in the brand growth and development. Also, man power, electricity, and combining my education and work together have been a great challenge for me.

“We have participated in several exhibitions and one of the things we learnt from the exhibition is the need to know your audience and how best to reach them. I learnt the need to be positive and apply the right mindset in doing my business.

“Moreover, I was also taught to maintain constant communication with my clients especially those I come in contact with at exhibitions and event. This will help me build improved customer relationships and better business opportunities. I have put all these information together to drive the successful running of the brand.

“Shoemaking is the Nigerian new economic mainstay for the country because the huge availability of leather in the country especially in Kano State but sadly enough is not been done in harnessing the leather produced, instead we focus on importation of treated leathers from China, Italy and other countries. We need to have leather industries in the country for the production of quality and well-treated leather for shoe production and reduce our dependency foreign leathers.

“The year 2019 has been a good year for us. We have achieved so much in the year and we did more than break even in the year. We are grateful to God for everything, to our friends and family, to our loyal customers that patronise us and also refer us.”