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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Stay Focused On Your Vision - Temilade Osinfade CEO TT Dalk Shoes

Meet Temi­lade Osinfade, the young man behind TT Dalk shoes, whose shoes have been featured on runways in almost all countries of the world. He has also been able to give shoe making a new face and direction. This young entrepreneur who is a Babcock University graduate of Public Health, encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to have a vision and stay focused. Read excerpts of his interview with The Sun below:

What was your motivation in incorporating TT Dalk Shoes and how did it all start?
I was in school back then and I used to sell all sorts of things. In my 3rd year, I began customizing my shoes. I had this guy who made shoes for me. I design the shoes and give to the cobbler to make. I was a fashion buff at the time. As time went on, a few friends said they liked my shoes and placed orders and before I knew it, it became a business. Since I was almost finishing school, I wanted something on my own and I wanted it to be in fashion. Initially, I didn't want to deal in clothes, because the market was saturated. I wanted to do something different and I came up with the idea of making branded shoes and ventured into branded shoes.

What year did TT Dalk come on board as a brand and how has it been?
It was in 2008, but it has been quite tough, because then, I was looking for workers. Getting the right kind of people to work with was a bit challenging. Aside that, when you are going into the market there are two things to consider. It’s either people accept your product or people don’t accept your product. That was tough. My competitors were great challenges. It was a little bit tough to pen­etrate the market. The main challenge was foreign competition. Getting perfect designs into the market that would make the standard was tough.

When it comes to the selling experience, I had always been selling my stuffs right from secondary school. Walking up to people boldly and talking about my products were not difficult. Sometimes , I just go to Silverbird Galleria, Shoprite and other malls in Lagos with my car, open my trunk and start calling people. That was how I was selling initially. I did that for a very long while. As time went on, it became a lifestyle for me. I wake up, go to market and talk about my products. Most people told me, “I’m sorry, I don’t wear Nige­rian-made products,” but today, they all come to me and buy my products.

How were you able to raise capi­tal for your business?
Sincerely, all my capital have been from my initial sales revenue. Right from when I was in school, I had always learnt to define my needs and my wants. When I figured that out, I became more prudent. So, most times, when I make sales, I put a large percentage back into the business and the remaining into logistics and some other things. There wasn't any serious financial backing from anybody. It’s been really good.

What challenges have you faced as a shoe maker and fashion outlet?
Irregular power supply has been a major challenge for me. I always say to myself, if I have 24 hours electricity supply in Nigeria, it will make a lot of difference, trust me. There is no story about that. If there is constant electricity supply, a lot of businesses would perform better. This is because diesel costs so much. It’s affecting the whole economy. An average guy that wants to start a business would still think of buying a big generator to power his plant and equipment which is not supposed to be so.

These factors are limitations for start-ups. Finding the right materials is also another challenge. Today, Nigeria is either the second or third largest leather producing country but we are not making use of that. Leather shouldn't be our problem but I can tell you that it’s a problem. Today, we have this quantity, tomorrow, we don’t have it. Working with the right manpower too has been a great challenge. This business is not a business that you go to school to learn.

What does it take to run a successful shoe and fashion business like yours?
First you need to have passion for the business, it takes a lot of consistency and perseverance. Define your brand, and define your target market. You will not find many people who are knowledgeable about the business, so you need to educate yourself and do most of the work at the early stages. You must be very creative, and most especially you need to take risks. Get out of your comfort zone and explore the outside world.

What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs out there?
First, I will tell them to have vision. The vision is like your guideline and goal. There will be obstacles but your vision will make you stand. You need to be prudent and have savings. Also try to be able to differentiate your needs from your wants. You need to be able to control yourself and your spending. 

You need to have a business plan and a strategy too. It all comes with sleepless nights. You need to stay focused on your vision no matter what. Finally, put God first in all that you do. For me, I believe so much in God and He is my guidance and I let Him run my business and that’s why I am not the CEO of TT Dalk Shoes, but God is the CEO. When you put God first, before you know it, consistency would fall in place and you would attain your goals.

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