Leather crafting artisan stories in Lagos Nigeria

I'm a Leather Artisan
with Okevi Etefe

I am a Nigerian leathercrafter based in Lagos Nigeria. I started leathercraft in 2018.

After creating my first pieces, I asked my then manager if it was ok, to display my product and she agreed. Word of mouth did a lot as I got support from family and friends. I then opened my social media accounts.

Leather Crafting Artisan in Lagos Nigeria

Hello ! Who are you and when did you open your workshop?

My name is Okevi Etefe, I am a Nigerian leathercrafter based in Lagos Nigeria. I started leathercraft in 2018.

Leather artisan Story

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I grew up in Ughelli, a small town in Delta State, in the south of Nigeria. Growing up, I always liked creating things (from old newspapers, wood, and my mom’s old bags and clothes). I have always been fascinated by the formation of whole objects from a collection of separate pieces. While working as a sales representative for a fashion brand in Lagos, after graduating from university, I told my colleague I will love to create comfortable shoes, bags, and accessories for people to use. I contacted a shoemaker, who asked me to come up with my designs and he will create them. That was how it all started.

Tell us what was your first product.

My first product was a rope slide slippers for ladies.

Leather Artisan First Product

Describe the process of launching.

After creating my first pieces, I asked my then manager if it was ok, to display my product and she agreed. Word of mouth did a lot as I got support from family and friends. I then opened my social media accounts.

Since launch, what was the first step to attract customers?

When I started, I got a lot of support from family and friends. People asked when they wear my brand and I got recommendations and referrals. Then I opened my social media accounts. Going online has been super helpful in growing my brand.

What do you love the most about your profession?

My profession is a very unique one. I never stop learning and making new and interesting discoveries. I love that I can turn a leather sheet to a beautiful product which someone will be happy to own. The thought of making someone else happy with each creation makes it all worthwhile.

How would you define what you do?

I will define what I do as working with my hands, engaging my mind, and using my creativity to make beautiful, unique and useful products from leather.

Leather Products

Do you master any specific techniques?

In leathercraft, there are a lot of techniques unique to each crafter. I have mastered hand stitching, differentiating good quality leather from the not so good ones, and detailed finishing of my products.

What type of leather do you prefer and why?

I prefer working with vegetable-tanned leather because after creating a product, it comes out straight and firm. I also use chrome-tanned leather because it is easy to fold.

What tannery/leather supplier would you recommend in your area?

In Nigeria, the best tanneries are in Kano State. They export leather all over the world to top brand names. However, in the western part of the country, where I am, Mushin Market is the place to get good leather in Lagos.

Mushing Leather Market Lagos

Have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I have learned how to use social media to improve reach and maximize sales. I have learned to understand trends, reaching out to other leathercrafters to learn and share ideas. I also learn how to value your time as part of the creative process.

What platform/tools do you use to sell your products?

I use different platforms to sell i.e. social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and eCommerce websites. I also attend trade fairs and exhibitions. I also plan to sell on my website www.futwealeathercraft.com

What have been the most influential resources?

Inspiration is all around us. We just need to pay attention to our surroundings. I have always loved our African culture. I tap from the unlimited resources it provides for a creative mind. I read a lot of fashion books and magazines. I also draw inspiration from movies.

What's your advice for leather artisans who want to get started or are just starting out?

Start small get basic tools and cheap leathers. It really doesn’t take that much money to start making money in leathercraft. Your skills will grow as you continue to work and learn. Just start and you will figure out a lot of things on your own.

Where can we find your business ?

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