When I moved back to Nigeria, I faced the shoe issue again. I would go to boutiques and see shoes that were easily $30 in the U.S (N4,000-N4,500 due to the dollar rate at that time) being sold here in Lagos for N20,000!! When I would travel for work or vacation, I took an extra suitcase for shoes. Yes! An extra suitcase ! And I would hit the mall to look for all the colors available in my size and buy.
In 2012, I started buying and selling shoes for women with big feet like me. I sold those through Twitter , BBM and Facebook mostly.
I knew that I would one day start my own shoe line but I had no idea how to start. For two years, I did a lot of research , travelled a lot, spoke to lots of women and I’m happy to say Gbémisókè was born!
Everyone has a sister or a friend who has big feet. Please introduce her to Gbémisókè.
Gbemi also said this to The Net NG;
After getting inspiring messages from fans Gbemi Olateru- Olagbegi, I decided to launch the heels version of Gbemisoke shoes. Gbemisoke is targeted at women with big feet Earlier this year in May, I launched my shoe line for women with big feet ‘Gbemisoke’. It is now September and it has been quite a journey.
I started receiving emails and DM’s like this; “Gbemi, I am getting married soon and I have been searching for nice shoes to wear. My shoe size is 13 Wide. Please do you have dressy shoes or sandals in red preferably please?” or “Gbemi, my 14 year old daughter wears a US11 shoe size and she is still growing. Thank God for Gbemisoke shoes. Please hurry up and make different styles and colours. You have given some relief to a concerned mother.”
Everywhere I go, people call me ‘Gbemisoke’. Though I’ve been on radio and in the spotlight for over 10 years, the first thing people talk to me about is shoes and their own experience while looking for shoes for themselves or for their mothers or their sisters or girlfriends. When the flats launched in May, I received a lot of encouragement as well as criticism – “Why is she launching only flats?” “These shoes are basic.” “These shoes are expensive…” My favourite one is “Why are the shoes called ‘Gbemisoke’ if she only has flat shoes?”
What those people failed to realize is that it’s a gradual process. I did not have enough money to produce & launch the flats and heels at the same time. To make matters worse, the dollar went from N180 to N225 without warning. Nobody knew that the week I launched ‘Gbemisoke’, I was as broke as I had ever been. I was not sure I would be able to buy basic things like petrol and food for the following week. I emptied my bank accounts to get it off the ground. I haven’t slept properly in months because I’m constantly working, planning, thinking and worrying. Fretting about this new baby – It is indeed a baby that has grown rapidly in such a short period but still needs a lot of nurturing. I’ve grown accustomed to the feeling of having my heart in my mouth. I never thought one could get used to anxiety. I have learned to channel that nervous energy into work. I was worried that the people would not buy my shoes and the whole thing would flop. I am grateful for the family members, friends, colleagues, and strangers who not only bought the shoes but also lent a helping hand to ensure that the launch was a success. I am so grateful. I am humbled and awed at the same time……