SME CORNER: Founder of Kahdsole designs Chioma Ukpabi is one of the under 25 Leading CEO in Lagos

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Founder of Kahdsole Designs Chioma Ukpabi is the  Creative Director/ Founder of an award winning Leather product brand that deals with crafting footwears, bags and other accessories.

 

The resilient young entrepreneur has been intentional about her brand and she uses it as a medium to motivate her peers to keep pushing even during a tough year.

 

Recently, she launched an idea to remove Leather Waste and started turning remnants to footwears for kids.

 

She is working hard to build an environment where everyone can help each other grow.

 

She also creates contents with her platforms to motivate and educate her fellow entrepreneurs. In a brief chat via virtual interview  with Zivang team Chioma talks  intelligently about her passion, vision, challenges faced as a young entrepreneur in Nigeria.

 Check out Interview below👇👇👇👇

 

 

Brief Introduction About yourself?

My name Chioma Ukpabi, a 24 Year old native of Arochukwu in Abia state is a Communication Arts graduate of Bowen University.

 

I am a Shoemaker, Content Creator, Social media Coach, YouTuber and Graphic Designer.

I am the founder of Kahdsole Designs(2019 Top 10 Startup of the year), an award winning leather product brand that deals with crafting footwears, bags and other accessories.

 

 

I am a resilient young entrepreneur who is intentional about her brand and uses it as a medium to motivate my peers to keep pushing even during a tough year.

 

I have won several awards such Personality of the Year by CHER Awards and have also been nominated for several awards such as 25under25 Manufacturing and Logistics category in 2020, Young Entrepreneur of the year by ELOY AWARDS and TEA AWARDS.

 

I am also Tekedia Institute Mini MBA certified; among many others from Google, Enterprise Development Centre, The Assembly, British Council and others.

 

Fun facts: I am such a foodie; I explore food for a living.

 

When did you start Kahdsole Designs?

I started my brand in 2018, December to be precised. I started after I graduated and needed something to keep me business while waiting for my NYSC and a 9-5.

 

Kahdsole Designs started after an only Pams Slippers brand before we started crafting Shoes, Boots, Bags and Belts.

 

At Kahdsole Designs, we use quality leather to design and craft durable and comfortable leather products for both male and female, nationwide and internationally.

 

Why did you decide to start out your leather products brand business?

Like I said earlier, Kahdsole Designs started as a vocation to stay busy while waiting on NYSC but why I chose to start a leather product brand was because of my personal story. As a leather i wear size 44(I am sure you said wow), as I decided to start something I was passionate about and my market research should that there was a problem, Nigerians had a belief that handmade products in Nigeria were not quality or durable; so I decided to start my brand trying to solve my big foot problem and also changing the narratives Nigerians had about handmade products. That’s why we craft durable products.

 

What do you love about Shoemaking/Fashion?

Ooou……! I love a lot about Shoemaking and Fashion.

The fact one thinks about unique creative designs to craft out for clients, makes one explore the creativity in their thoughts.

You see the main thing is the articulation one has to put when drafting out patterns; it makes one calculative.

Shoemaking is actually fun, but not a joke.

 

How did you come up with the name Kahdsole Designs, what does it stand for?

How will i explain this?

 

Hmmmm…. okay, ‘Kahd’ was gotten out of the word, Kahdynal which came from the word Cardinal.

Kahd-Sole is more like the shoe that can be versatile (serves all the Cardinal Points).

 

 

Recently, you launched an initiative to recycle leather waste and turn them into footwear for kids? Kindly talk more about it?

Yes, we actually wanted to do something different there by achieving SDG 9:

Our mission is to be able to give a child a pair of footwear after every 10th sale for that day/week/month; it just depends on sales, but this new idea launched that helps us reach more.

Instead of trashing them, we will join them together and turn into beautiful pairs.

 

What has been the responses and acceptance since you launched the initiative?

 

Well, our feedbacks has been great even though we fully plan to launch on our 2 years anniversary on the 28th of December.

 

The covid-19 pandemic  came as a surprise in the year 2020, As an entrepreneur how have you been able to keep your head up high despite the pandemic?

 

Truly, the pandemic shook our plans for the year but nevertheless, passion and commitment kept my head high. Our consistency gave us a reason to keep pushing, people needed to see their footwear plug and we needed to keep showing up.

The main thing that gave me that confidence not to quit was my zeal to keep the vision of the brand alive.

 

What  are the challenges you have  faced as a start up in Nigeria?

 

We have faced some challenges such as Difficulties in Accessing Investors/Investments, Inconsistencies in Government Policies especially for our sector, Unstable Nigerian Economy, and lastly Marketing Strategy Challenge.

But we are looking for ways to make these work better.

 

Talking about you being intentional and using your brand to motivate your peers? What motivated you?

 

My motivation comes from my story, during my school days I dropped from Biochemistry in 300 level and when I went back I started all over again in Communication Arts, I was not seen as a source of inspiration to others because l had this lifestyle that people assumed I wasn’t approachable.

 

When I graduated in 2018 with a Second Class Upper, my peers started getting motivated by my strength, courage and boldness.

 

When I started Kahdsole Designs, I got all the love and most times my wins help me reach more people without my knowledge, daily i get mails, DMs or Chats. People will say ‘oh Chito(my popular name) you made me start a course on the platform you just got certified’ or ‘chioma i always keep my head high when you show up’. This keeps me aware that people are watching and I motivate myself to stay strong for them.

I remember the day someone said I make entrepreneurship look easy (laughs).

 

What keeps you going when the chips are down?

 

The first thing I do is pray. Prayer has this way it elevates your spirit. I am surrounded my a few people who look out for me.

My family, my partner, my best friends and my team.

The way the will say ‘Chito, get that energy back and keep being you’ has this energized feeling.

 

Kindly mention some of the mentors you look up to in business?

 

I am someone who admires a lot if people but i am particular about:

Kyari Bukar, Ifedayo Durosimi-Etti, Stephen Akintayo, Dr. Akintayo Akindele Padebi Ojomo and Biodun Adegoke.

 

What is your definition of style

Style is having the ability to dress to achieve whatever you want: You want to be great? Dress like a great woman or man.

 

How do you envision your brand in a few years from now?

 

By 2023, I see Kahdsole Designs will be able to have created at least 1000 jobs nationwide (achieving SGD 8) and also 10,000 youths to understand the skill of my craft.

 

I will also love to have partnered with international brands to achieve SDG 17.

 

Your words of advice to entrepreneurs like yourself?

 

My advice is simple, know what your abilities are and stay true to it. It will pay off as long as you show up everyday.

 

Just take it one step at a time. You are a star.

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