Footwear is one of the most essential things in life and the icing on the cake of your dressing. No matter how amazing a person’s outfit is, if the footwear is not right it takes a lot from the dressing and tones it down, removing it from the class of gorgeous it should have been in.
This is why the job of a footwear maker cannot be taken lightly. This week, we spoke with Mr David Okechukwu Ibe on the important skills necessary to successfully run a footwear brand.
Mr David Okechukwu Ibe is the CEO of St David’s Leather Works, a fashion brand that specialises in the production of leather footwear and accessories, such as shoes, sandals, slippers, bags, and belts. He is a seasoned shoemaker with over 20 years of experience.
Divisions of Shoemaking
Shoemaking is divided into 3 parts;
It is the first stage of shoemaking. It deals with coming up with design ideas for your footwear. It involves brainstorming and gathering inspiration to come up with creative designs for your brand. This aspect also requires you to make fashion sketches or illustrations so you do not forget your design ideas.
This is the aspect that focuses on bringing design ideas and sketches to reality. This is the stage of the shoemaking process where all the individual components that makeup footwear are brought together and merged into one.
When the designs are brought to reality, marketing is what comes next. As a designer, you have to market your fashion items if you hope for patronage. This stage is as important as the design and production stages and should not be overlooked.
As a shoemaker, you must and should focus more on your area of strength.
Skills Required for Running a Footwear Brand
According to him, the ultimate skills required for running a footwear brand are Designing and Marketing skills;
This deals with your ability, as a footwear designer, to come up with unique designs to set you apart from the crowd. The designs you can come up with is what gives you an edge over your competitors, it is what keeps pulling clients back for more.
Coming up with unique designs for your footwear brand requires you to be creative and innovative. This implies making the same shoes others are making but in a different way by adding your own unique and personalised touches to them.
We are always looking out for what is trending and then we add one or two designs to it then personalise it. For every brand, you must have a brand identity, that is something you are known for.
If you hope to have a brand that stands the test of time, you have to have a great taste for quality. Quality products are those that are durable and that your customers can use for years without complaints. Quality products also have great finishing.
As a footwear designer, also, you have to understand the concept of colour combination if you hope to come up with creative designs. You must understand different colours and how they work together.
Knowing how to combine colours is key.
This is the marketing strategy you add to your brand to get it in the view of your target market. It simply means being able to market your brand in such a way that it appeals to those you have made your footwear for.
In marketing your footwear to your target audience, you have to ensure that they are affordable enough for the price point they are willing to pay and readily available to them, that is, in an accessible location.
Ways to Develop These Skills
The only ways to get these skills are to acquire or outsource them.
Acquiring them is usually a very good option. So, if you do not have them then learn them. As a designer, if you find that your marketing skills are not good then you can as well look out for events and seminars that train people on these things.
There are people who are good when it comes to marketing or designing, approach them and ask to be trained by them. If they want you to pay for it and you can afford the fee then pay.
To climb up the ladder of success in the fashion industry, or any industry for that matter, you must invest in yourself as much as you can. Competence is the only thing that can take you places in life and entrepreneurship.
If you are very good at making shoes but bad with marketing this should not pose a hindrance to you as you can always employ someone skilled at marketing to compliment you.
You cannot afford to make good shoes but have bad marketing skills to sell them, and you cannot also afford to have good designs but use bad quality or the wrong choice of leather to make them. You need these skills to be a good player in the industry
Importance of Having These Skills
1. It Distinguishes your Brand
The designs you make for your footwear brand is what makes you different from other brands. If your footwear always has an extra touch to them, your clients will notice and see you as a professional and an authority in your field.
2. It Could be your Selling Point
Everyone loves to have something unique and uncommon. When you run a brand that creates footwear pieces that cannot be found anywhere else, customers will come to you more than they will go to other brands.
Having that unique selling point (USP) stands you out even in marketing your footwear because when people see your items they will automatically be able to trace it back to your brand. That is one thing that makes a brand last.
In closing, Mr Ibe said, “You can’t give what you don’t have, but you can acquire what you don’t have. Be humble. Be open. Keep it simple. Don’t give up. Finally, don’t lose focus.”