As the fashion industry in Nigeria grows and expands, many new designers are popping up and taking the industry by storm. With fresh ideas, new designs, and bigger innovations, fashion is taking a whole new turn.
Introducing our new series – Fashion Rising Stars, where we speak with upcoming designers in the Nigerian fashion industry. Designers that are growing and rising to become the next big names in the industry. This week, our spotlight shone on Rahimat Adetunji, the founder and creative director of Footiesbyrhai. We had an interesting chat with her about her journey so far as an upcoming fashion accessories designer in Nigeria. Here’s the conversation that ensued.
Please tell us about the person behind Footiesbyrhai?
The person behind Footiesbyrhai is Rahimat Adetunji. I’m both the founder and creative director of the brand. I won’t exactly say I’m the typical entrepreneur as I still actively work a 9 – 5 job despite running this business for about 4 years now. As much as I love my business, I also enjoy paid employment.
Currently, I’m also a master’s degree holder from the University of Ibadan. As an individual, I enjoy trying new restaurants and watching movies when I’m not very busy.
Oh wow, nice! Running a business alongside a 9-5 job must be something. It’s so nice to meet you.
It’s draining but I love it. Hopefully, someday, I’ll be bold enough to face my business squarely.
I can imagine. Yes, one day you shall be. Now, how would you describe Footiesbyrhai?
Footiesbyrhai is an indigenous leather goods brand committed to producing comfortable and stylish footwear, bags and belts. We source all of our leather locally and our brand proudly represents Made in Nigeria goods.
Nice! I love purely Made in Nigeria goods. Who would you say is the ideal Footiesbyrhai customer?
Thank you ☺️.
The ideal Footiesbyrhai customer is young, stylish and loves to get quality items at the best price. This person can either be male or female.
I know that every creative person draws inspiration from somewhere. What inspires your designs?
I get inspired by my surroundings. There is beauty in the chaos we live in and once I have an idea in mind I try to balance it with the wants and needs of my customers and also current trends.
“My inspiration comes from a marriage of things I see in my environment, the ideas I have in mind, my customers’ needs, and fashion trends.”Rahimat Adetunji
Do you ever get creative blocks when trying to come up with new designs? How do you overcome them?
Oh yes, I do! For instance, I’ve been trying to work on a new collection for months now. The creative block I have now is worse than it should be because I have to balance this with work. To overcome it usually, I really just give it time. That works all the time.
What have been your greatest challenges while building Footiesbyrhai? How have you been able to overcome them?
To be honest, I don’t see them as challenges because they’re a huge part of the growth process.
But, right now, the most challenging thing for me is single-handedly managing most of the business. It gets overwhelming, especially because I have to balance this with my 9 – 5.
How have I overcome this? I haven’t. I’m working towards getting an assistant though. Hopefully, that helps.
True. All these things help us grow and fly. What has your biggest milestone been and how did reaching it make you feel?
Selling more than 2,000 pairs of footwear. It was genuinely exciting and it gave me a lot of hope for the future. It’s been a long time coming. My perseverance and consistency with creating top-notch footwear had finally paid off.
Wow, that’s huge. How did you achieve this?
It took years of deliberate effort, our customers getting to know us and getting familiar with the brand. What helps us mainly was advertisements. For the first few years of my business, I was just letting it run by itself and I wasn’t doing anything to put the brand out there. It was doing fine on its own so I didn’t bother since more orders meant more stress.
In 2020, I finally realised that I had to try harder and put in more effort so I did a lot of adverts.
What are the major sales techniques you use to sell Footiesbyrhai footwear?
Sometimes, I try to implement after-sale services. About 95 per cent of my customers do not have issues with their order, but when that occasional dissatisfied customer turns up, I try to satisfy them and resolve their issues.
Adverts are also a major part of my sales technique. I did a lot of more deliberate Instagram adverts towards the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Before then, I used to go for the cheaper Instagram ads that cost me about N5,000 to N10,000 but they didn’t work. Even though Instagram showed they had a wide reach, they weren’t converting. This made me give up on them at the beginning of 2020.
But then, towards mid-2020 I went back to it and started to spend more on those adverts. I spent a minimum of N15,000 on the Instagram ads and it converted a lot. The first time I put a lot of money into Instagram ads and I realised it was working, I started trying to do it more often. I realised I was getting orders that would normally take me 3 months to get with just a 6 days ad once every 2 months. That helped a lot.
The good thing about Instagram ads is that even if many people don’t buy anything while the ad is on, I’ll see that about 500 to 1,000 people saved my product. So, even when the ad is off I’ll still be getting orders from them. That’s a lot of orders.
Even though I advertise on both WhatsApp and Instagram, most of my sales come from Instagram. I’ve also realised that having good quality photos helps. Doing Instagram ads with bad quality photos will make people pass it by. I take all my pictures by myself and I put a lot of effort into it.
Amazing. What are the biggest lessons you have learnt as a fashion designer in Nigeria?
I have learnt patience, perseverance, and consistency.
No matter how difficult it seems at first, just keep showing up and it will definitely get better.
True. It always gets better. What do you like most about the Nigerian fashion industry and what do you like least about it?
I like the fact that there’s still a chance for growth and innovation, there are so many Made in Nigeria brands that are doing so good and that’s really exciting.
What I like the least is the fact that there are lots of people who are still reluctant as regards embracing Made in Nigeria fashion goods.
Which celebrity would you love to see wearing one of your pieces?
I’ve never thought about this. We attend to all our customers with utmost care and love because choosing Footiesbyrhai out of tons of options is surreal.
Nice one, I like that. Finally, who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
Locally, I’ll say Femi handbags. I love what she’s doing in the leather space and the fact that she started way before people even put so much value on Made in Nigeria bags.
Thank you so much for your time. I’m very grateful.
You’re welcome. Thank you too.