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Thursday, 24 July 2014

CEO of Mona Matthews - How Having Two Unequal Feet Led to Her Shoe Making Business

Nigeria's Mrs Abimbola Azeh is the CEO of Mona Matthews, a company that designs and makes high quality shoes. The lawyer turned shoe-maker revealed that her business was born in 2002 after several futile attempts in search of the perfect shoe size. I am sharing her inspiring story which I saw on Townetworks. Read below:

My feet are not the same size, No, it's not a matter of "everybody has one foot bigger than the other.” it's more like one foot is one shoe size wider than the other. Growing up, I was a bit of a tomboy. I was born between two brothers and for a long time I did not believe that I could not do everything that my older brother could do. So, I played soccer which might be why my right foot is much wider than my left foot. Or maybe I was just born like that.

Anyway, I did not pay much attention to this phenomenon until I became a lawyer and I had to wear court shoes. This was way back in the days when all Italian shoes were made in Italy. I began to notice that my right court shoes had this disrespectful habit of splitting in the middle. I became ingenious, and I would add a clip-on bow to cover the slit, but the damage would continue and often went beyond what a bow could conceal.



After a while, unknown to me, Italian, Spanish and British shoe companies began a romance with China that spelt doom for the fashionista in my feet. I just couldn't find shoes to fit both my feet. Oh I forgot to add that my feet had also grown wider than their length as prescribed by the almighty International Shoe Sizing Federation. (Okay you caught me, I made that up, but it sounds authentic doesn't it, ISSF.) You see, lengthwise I am a size 41, but width wise I am a size 43 on the left foot and a size 44 on the right foot. So, as you can guess, buying shoes became a nightmare because Chinese people had not yet heard about my feet, and so were not producing shoes to suit me.

I can still remember several futile trips to Balogun in search of the perfect shoes. After a tug of war with my feet, the sweating Ibo trader would look up at me with a grin totally satisfied with his effort at squeezing my feet into shoes that were so tight that I knew I could not wear them for more than 1 minute, and declare victoriously, "na ya size!" Eventually I gave up shopping at Balogun Market completely. I then discovered some boutiques along Opebi/Allen where I would buy beautiful expensive shoes that were a perfect fit for my left foot only.

My unfortunate right foot was forced into these shoes that I had invested a fortune in and made to suffer in silence. I then learnt to pop some analgesics before leaving home for an event. I knew exactly how long I had to enjoy the party before their pain relieving effect wore off. If I did not make my exit on time, the "life of the party girl" would transform into a grouchy lady because of pain in my right foot.
This led me to begin to investigate shoemaking in Nigeria. I decided that I would design and make shoes for myself that would come in astonishing colors and would be comfortable. God heard my cry, held my hand and Mona Matthews was born.

Now, I thank God for giving me shoemakers’ feet. If a pair of shoes is meant to be size 43, I test with my left foot, if it's meant to be 44; I test with my right foot. If it's meant to be 41, I compare with my feet length and I am always accurate.




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