CHINELO IKEGBUNE, THE GIRL WHO WEARS MANY HATS
Chinelo Ikegbune is a lawyer who was called to bar in November of 2015. However, she doesn’t practise law but works as a banker and part-time model. Like most Nigerians, she has a ‘side hustle’. Let’s make that plural, ‘side hustles’. She has carved a niche for herself in producing footwear that isn’t just trendy and pure leather, but also completely made in Nigeria. She is part of the demographic starting to look within Africa for business opportunities and resources.
Self-taught, Chinelo has been able to build a brand that is sustainable and profitable in the foot wear line, Lucy Daves.
Please introduce us to you. Who is Chinelo?
- I am Ikegbune Chinelo princess, I studied law at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, and was called to the bar in November2015, so it’s safe to say that I’m a lawyer but currently working as a banker. I’m from a family of 5, I am the second child and first girl. I love to travel, read, plan events, model and I love designing. I think in concepts, I’m very imaginative so I’m always capturing ideas in my head and I love being in creative spaces.
How did the Idea to start ‘Lucy Daves’ come about?
- First off, the idea was to become a fashion designer. Fresh out of the university, I felt the need to do something, be something. You know, carve a niche for myself somehow. I had a sketchpad/ idea pad which I believe was where everything started was conceived. Fast forward to my youth corps year, armed with a little freedom and money I decided to try something different.Shoe-making is seen as a man’s job, so I thought why not? What a man can do… you know the rest. I decided to put my all into making my shoemaking dream come true
Do you do it all yourself?
- I have people who work for me, it gives me more time to focus on the designs and shop for the necessary materials. No man can function as an island. I find that the more I delegate, the more time I have to be creative. However, where I’m not delivering ideas, I join in the production process. I learnt from a shoe maker and also further studied online and mostly on you-tube.
When did you start creating your brand?
- To be honest, I’d say mid-2016. When I started it didn’t really look like it would pan out. But, I was bent on trying and failing rather than not trying at all.
Has your brand been received well?
- Yes, it has. We are growing every day. We’re even getting international appreciation and it amazes me. It’s just all the motivation I need to keep pushing. Perseverance really does get you far in life.
What methods have you applied to garner visibility for your brand?
- First, my blogger sister @cassiedaves took it upon herself to push me out there, I do giveaways, I reach out to celebrities, Instagram adverts, word of mouth is still very essential too so I try to provide the best possible product and service I can.
How do you stay abreast of trends?
- Now, this is quite tough because the world keeps evolving in a hurry so I try to create my own designs regardless of whatever may be trending at that point in time. I try to keep producing super trendy and very stylish foot wears that can be worn for all seasons. I do research by eyeing our international counterparts and reading up on what the style forecasters are saying.
What is the greatest tale you have been told about Entrepreneurship in Lagos?
- Well, rumour has it that if you want to make it big in business you need go to Lagos because it has a wide consumer base and to be honest that is somewhat true.
What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?
- Go out more, attend business seminars, meet more business minded people, always tell people what you do, being shy never helped anybody.
In 5 years’ time, where will Lucy Daves be?
- In 5years, Lucy Daves would be a widely accepted brand in Africa and the world.
This business savvy woman has also been able to start another hustle off the back of her footwear brand. She realized that many like her had 9-5 jobs and were tending to an entrepreneurship dream on the side. She then went further to notice that it was difficult to balance both where both sides demanded attention for efficiency. She immediately saw a leverage window and used it to her full advantage. She created custom business planners that would help solve this problem and opened a separate page on Instagram entitled @l_planners. She custom-designed the cover and was in charge of ensuring that the look and feel would be everything a business person on this side of the world would need to stay organized. She would know, she runs two businesses with two highly demanding jobs.
Chinelo forms part of the young African demographic that is starting to look inwards for ways to proffer solutions to the job market and the economy at large. Like any entrepreneur, she has been through her fair share of challenges but giving up was never an option. Her business experienced the most growth during Nigeria’s bout of Economic recession. Businesses like hers were able to boom because not only were they less expensive than the imported products, they were high quality. It is such businesses that have formed part of the reason Nigeria has been able to get out of recession as quickly as it did. She represents a new era of thinkers and innovative leaders. Her story is worth celebrating.