“Follow your dreams with courage, imagination and the ability to attract and work with the best minds. Focus intently on your goals. Loyalty, commitment and passion for the job are critical virtues, technical skills apart.”
Olaniyi Omodara is the founder, designer and principal craftsman of Extra Valuable Apparel (EVA), a footwear company in Akure, Nigeria.
A self-taught craftsman, Olaniyi’s foray into the shoe designing industry began quite as a hobby- he would scout for materials from his environment and sew them neatly together into lovely pairs of slippers for his family.
In 1993, this hobby took a whole new turn, resulting into a money yielding venture.
Olaniyi lost one of his treasured pair of slippers which he had made using materials he gathered around his neighbourhood. He needed a replacement, but this time, he longed for something more sophisticated and durable than his ordinary pair of cheap slippers. The prompt to seek and infact produce a better alternative, resulted to an amazing discovery for the young craftsman, summed up in the life changing words, “I can”.
He clearly had no pleasure in joining the “I have no shoes” band, instead he saw his problem as a window, to create opportunities for himself and several other people.
In 2012, Olaniyi took a step further and registered his business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Nigeria, before launching out officially.
The focused entrepreneur now produces “bespoke” shoes, customized for each client and made to order. His vision for EVA is to “manufacture world-class leather products through superior designs and quality materials.” And you can tell that he is well on his way.
According to him, EVA shoes have very unique features- they are comfy, trendy and neater than all other Nigerian handmade shoes.
The company currently has two staff members and two trainees. One person assists in shoe production alongside the trainees, while the second staff person works mainly on the branding, marketing and delivery of orders to their growing customers.
Olaniyi has clear goals for his business, and works hard to achieve them,
“I’m constantly updating my business plan, but these are my overall goals:
To become Nigeria’s hallmark for locally made products, especially in the leather manufacturing industry. I hope EVA can achieve this with an individualistic approach to customer satisfaction and service and by using the highest-quality materials.
To be a global player in shoe manufacturing from Africa by the year 2035. To achieve that, it becomes more obvious by the day that we will have to partner with international shoe-manufacturing factories to scale up production significantly. At that level, my role will largely be design, quality assurance, general supervision and marketing.
To continuously attract, train and retain the best minds and hands in order to fulfill the earlier mentioned goals.”Young African Leaders network.
Despite the many challenges on his way, the craftsman remains focused and dedicated to his vision. He found his niche and immediately took charge of it.
*If you have a dream, chase it. Give your best and watch every other thing fall into place.