My friends encouraged me when I gave up, says Paul Akoni
Paul Akoni, CEO of Paulicy Footies, a company that produces shoes, has succeeded in making himself an entrepreneur, though he was an auditor. He tells KEMI SOKOYA the reasons he delved into fashion and the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur.
What are the basic challenges in the shoe making industry?
Creativity and originality are the basic challenges I’ve had to contend with in the business. Funding is also a key point that must be considered. Once those ones are out of it, you are as good as done.
Can you share with us the things you faced in the early days?
Having to source for capitals to finance the project was a big deal at the start. We went into liquidation some years during our first phase of the business. It was a great challenge back then for a business that was just growing up, and it really helped to mould us to where we are presently.
Also, patronage was a real war we faced in our early stage, as people didn’t believe in Made-in-Nigeria products. It would make a great sense to let you know that the shoe vision started as far back as 2008. Then, we started as a brand, and not a retailer.
Did people believe in you at the beginning?
Well, that’s a bit technical, but I would say it was a mixed reaction. But later, my mum was a great succour for me; she never doubted what I could do. Thanks to my friends too, they helped in the rebirth of the vision.
Do you think Nigerian designers have what it takes to compete internationally?
Sure, I believe so. Paulicy Footies is standard evidence and we are proud to be Nigerian. We are always after quality in whatever we do. Outside our great country, we presently have clients that cut across four continents and we look to widen our scope of dominance, as time goes on.
Has there been a time you felt like quitting?
Yes, I actually called it quit at some point or permit me to say, I actually had a moment to restrategise. Back in 2011, I gave up on the vision after certain discouragement. But some friends of mine at different times innocently talked me into reconsidering the vision. Most of them never knew they were simply helping me to restrategise. All they knew was my passion for the best and here we are today.
Has there been a time you regretted forfeiting your certificate for fashion?
Never, I’m a Nigerian; regret is not in my DNA. Any undoing is a room for a better approach and it would surprise you to know that I still use my certificate. My love for challenges got me a job in one of the biggest auditing firms in Nigeria. As an auditor and a fashion connoisseur, my certificates are still a major part of me.
What gives you hope when things are not working as planned?
Life and time gives me the necessary hope to forge ahead. My life with Christ can never be over emphasised in my daily scheme, as He’s my real hope of Glory. Seeing the less privileged around also spurs me not to go add to the already overflowing population. I hold every day by the jugular, and it must always end well.
No regrets no matter how the day ends. No matter the outcome of any of my actions, there’s always a better way to do it and my flexibility in life has got me here thus far.
What makes your brand unique?
At PAULICY FOOTIES, we are a brand that thrives on creativity and originality. We are also a ”Cut it as they’ll want it brand.” We appreciate having our clients come up with designs and their own concepts, too. And we produce it, as they desire it.
What’s your long and short term plans?
Our long-term plan is to be a leading fashion brand across the globe, and we are also working on building a dynasty that would outlive the brains behind the great vision.
For the short term, we are working to get better by the day.
How do you intend to remain relevant for many years?
Our uniqueness in creativity is the needed template required to stand high. And having studied various business models and brands, our structure is so built to last the time.
Why did you choose this business?
For me, fashion business is all about passion. As an auditor with one of the biggest accounting firms in Nigeria, you can understand what 24 hours mean to me. So, to carve out time to attend to my client, could only be passion.
Fashion is a way of life for me. It is everything that matters on the outside. As much as I respect a person’s inward appeals, their outward look is a great priority for me.
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