Omoye Abulimen, “The Ethical Hardworker,” as she describes herself, is a human resource management degree holder turned professional shoemaker. Omoye studied Human Resource Management and Business at Bells University of Technology, and she first pursued a career in HR, but her passion for leather was too strong to dismiss. As a result, she abandoned her 9-to-5 job to start her own made-in-Nigeria footwear company.

Apart from her affinity for leather, Omoye chose the route of an entrepreneur and a career as a footwear designer for the following reasons: “I noticed a void in the made in Nigeria footwear sector. Many consumers did not want to associate themselves with made-in-Nigeria footwear since it lacked branding, proper finishing, and good customer service. I took it upon myself to fill that need. I’m also great at designing, so I thought to myself, I might as well just do this.”

Omoye not only went against the grain in this part of the world by becoming a shoemaker, but she also broke into the male-dominated industry of male footwear manufacturing. So we were curious as to what piqued her interest in men’s footwear. She responds, “Men who wear really large shoe sizes (I refer to them as “special people”) have a tough time finding what they like, what fits, what is comfortable, and what is also beautiful. So I provide the service of personalizing footwear for people like that as well as everyone else.”

She first learned how to design and make footwear in Nigeria, but she took it a step further in 2017 by attending the Brooklyn Fashion Shoemaking School to master finishing. Omoye had a vision of what she wanted her business to be and set about making that vision a reality, which is how her brand Dé Chayil was established.

According to Omoye, the most difficult aspect of being a designer is “ensuring that the entire team understands and implements your vision. Being a businesswoman in Nigeria is difficult; manufacturing in Nigeria is difficult, and I’m not going to lie.” Managing a business, especially in Nigeria, comes with many challenges, and for Omoye, those involve electricity, the dwindling economy, and staffing.

In terms of marketing, she has made excellent use of social media, so much so that we discovered her while looking through Instagram. She also does physical marketing. Even though her business is in a male-dominated sector, Omoye highlighted an intriguing fact: 80 percent of her clients are women. Apart from male footwear, Dé Chayil offers other products and services which include white-labelling for other brands, manufacturing hats, belts, wallets, purses, cufflinks, and almost anything leather.

Omoye has a vast imagination as a designer, which allows her to come up with fresh product concepts. All she has to do is imagine it, sleep on it, and if it still lingers in her mind, sketch it and manufacture it. 

We wanted to know how Miss Good Shoes, as Omoye is popularly called, unwinds and relaxes since, as they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

“To be very honest, I’m a workaholic. I hardly ever unwind. If I ever do, I’m either watching Netflix or sleeping. I sleep more than I watch Netflix.”

Omoye’s advice for other female entrepreneurs who are just starting in male-dominated industries: “There’s nothing to fear. What a man can do, I believe we can do better. A man is a man, and a woman is a woman. I don’t see why I should be scared. If anything at all, people would celebrate you for being tenacious, daring, and consistent. So please do not give up; keep on the journey. It is not an easy one, but it is worth it.”

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