When Nigerian shoe-making sensibilities meet western perfectionism, the outcome is often breathtaking

Yerima

Overalls is a Nigerian based fashion brand that is redefining the footwear industry. Founded by four friends, the brand is as of today a choice destination for style conscious shoppers seeking bespoke shoes at affordable prices. Yerima is one of the shoe line’s original founders and here he talks about what sets their brand aside and how they are circumventing the ‘Nigerian made’ cliché.

What kind of shoes do Overalls make?

We make custom bespoke shoes. Our main goal is to bridge the gap between the international market and the African one which is why we deal in high-end quality fabrics, soles and shoes at affordable prices.

What makes Overalls so different from the rest?

I think the problem with Nigerians is that we don’t reinvent the wheel enough. At Overalls, we always try to bring out something fresh without forgetting to add the Nigerian flavour.  I have noticed that whenever we release a new pair of shoe, we have others doing the same thing which only serves to remind us that we are heading in the right direction.

Nigerians usually don’t trust ‘Made in Nigeria’ as opposed to generic names. How did you cope with this?

What most people don’t realize is that every big name started out small. We even had people advising us to imitate popular brands so that we can sell better but we learnt instead how these shoes were made. When we started out, we concentrated three quarters of our efforts on publicity. We paid for ads in Ovation, Complete Fashion amongst others and it us took almost three years before our brand started getting recognised. Now we have customers in China, Canada, Kenya and other places.

How do you deal with competition?

Because we don’t have copyright laws, certain things are much harder to deal with. Anybody can just steal your ideas like that (snaps fingers). We had cases of corporate espionage where people steal our workers with the promise of better pay only so that they can get to our ideas. At a point we had to move our factory because of infringement – there were people coming into our workshop to snoop around. Things like that are always going to happen but it’s just that if you’re consistent in what you do, you’ll thrive regardless.

So far, how is doing business in Ibadan different from other places for you?

It has been different. People in Lagos buy based on what is in vogue whereas those in Ibadan tend to buy more based on referrals but I have actually met more people in Ibadan who pay without bargaining than in Lagos.

Comments and Reviews