Architect turned Shoemaker: seeks recognition, not money

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Coming face to face with Architect Chiamaka Enuoyibo, a 26 year old graduate of Architecture, Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, you will see an unassuming, but determined young lady.

Enuoyibo born to a Quantity surveyor and a building Engineer father had wanted to study fine art because of her love for pure creativity but ended up reading Architecture.

Though she embraced architecture after graduating but the allure for fashion would not allow her to continue. She soon lose her interest and wanted out and pronto, the fashion world beacon to her.

Speaking on her dream, the young lady said growing up, she had always dreamt of making money and this dream was responsible for her dumping architecture for shoe making. Though she found the skill and knowledge acquire in architecture very useful in her new found love.

Enuoyibo was bouyoed to dump architecture as she has lost the initial joy for the profession she spent six years studying in the university. Amazingly, she found joy in shoe making where she is making serious enroute in the fashion world with brand name “DEE ‘N’ ELL AFRICA” .

Enuoyibo traded in the clothing line initially but shoe making stole her heart and has given her name and all she is waiting for now is to get recognition and award for hard work and make name in a field said to be men dominated.

How the journey started: Enuoyibo said she was motivated to go into shoe making by one of her clients /customers who placed an order to make for him a palm slippers. Initially, she thought it was an impossible task as she never thought of venturing into shoe making despite the fact that she was into bag and leather accessories. So many things ran through her mind, but decided to brace the challenge and eventually she came up with a slippers that would be the turning point in her new found love in fashion world.

Against all odds, since 2015 that she ventured into shoe making proper, she has grown into one of the most creative and talented shoe designers in Abuja and its environ. Not satisfied to be a local champion, the architect is aiming to gain international recognition in no distance future.

Of course, Miss Enuoyibo was laughed at the early stage of her foray into shoe making and designing, but not deterred as she kept pushing and pushing. “I was laughed at before but not anymore. I have classified my Shoe making,” she said.

This is her story: “right from when I was young, I always wanted to make money of my own and I wanted to make money with my hands. I remember when I was in JSS1, I think I was 9 years old by that time, I used to take A4 paper from my mother’s school and put gum by the sides and supply them to chemist for tablet drugs and I sold them for 10 Naira per piece. In my JSS3, during Valentine, when my mates were falling in love and spending money, i made money. I remember then, that i will take VCD transparent nylons, cut the flowers from my sitting-room center table, and put them inside. I also included hand written love note (laughs). I sold a lot then. I also took copper wires and made earrings to sell.

During tests, i would buy 80 leaves notes and divide it into four 20 leaves notes and sell them for twice the price because my classmates always ran out of test notes. I have always been motivated to make money. My love for art started in SSS1 when my classmates would pay to read my hand drawn comics; that was where my motivation came from.

“I fell in love with Architecture soon after I followed my father to his building sites. I loved the look of creation and the fact that I could make money out of it. I told my father that I would be an architect some day; I was in my SSS2 then. My love for creativity followed soon after when I started dismantling my old bags and shoes; I was just curious. I wanted to know why it looked the way it looked. I loved making things from leather and Ankara. I made leather wristbands and I customised people’s names on it; that one alone gave me a lot of money in my 100 level.

“I finished architecture and I graduated with my BSC and my MSC but I couldn’t find the initial joy I found in Architecture, When I applied to study the course. Amazingly, my joy was now in shoemaking, (creating shoes to fit different mindsets, that is why our slogan is “wear your imagination”). I still liked the concept of buildings and the rules guiding buildings, so I merged shoemaking and Architecture together. I noticed that some skills I had studied in architecture had helped me construct my shoes perfectly well. I started calling myself the shoe Architect. my mandate was to treat my shoes like buildings considering the factors of a good building which was: durability, aesthetics (beauty), structure, texture, and balance.

“In my definition, a good shoe must have durability, beauty, structure texture, and balance. I noticed later on, that I had a dream to impact the young ones; especially the less-privileged, (the little boys who run around on the street and don’t have access to education). Then, I opened a school of shoemaking. It is not very big, but at least we are admitting students right now and once in every year, I train ten homeless teenagers at no cost at all; just to gradually fulfill this dream of mine. The only issue we have right now is that we don’t have all the machines we need to turn this dream to a proper reality.”

My parents reaction have been very encouraging and supportive all the way, she said. Though, my father encouraged me not to completely abandon architecture, this she explained is to ensure she has multiple source of income.

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