The current trend of fashion has made shoes an essential part of our everyday dressing. But unfortunately, not many of the shoes we wear are made in Ghana.
That trend, though, could soon change due to the efforts of some vibrant entrepreneurs like Sandra Ozwald.
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The 26-year-old is currently one of the very few shoe manufacturers in the country and has been making giant strides in this area.
As the CEO of Saint Ozwald Shoes, Sandra currently has eight men working for her, as she seeks to get more Ghanaians to buy into her locally made footwear.
As refreshing as this sounds, Sandra’s story is one that was never rosy. Having been faced with faced financial challenges after completing Senior High School (SHS), she decided to start a business of her own.
That, however, was not without stern objection from her mother, who, at the time, held that shoemaking was a strictly masculine job.
That notwithstanding, Sandra stood firm in her conviction that she could actually carve a rewarding career from shoemaking.
She recalls how the idea of starting a shoemaking factory came to her after she spotted the groom at a wedding wearing a Ghana-made shoe.
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According to her, the sight of the groom in a locally made footwear was so pleasing that she immediately decided to venture into the shoemaking business.
“I discovered this whole idea [of shoemaking] at a friend’s wedding where the groom was wearing a shoe which was made with an African print,” Sandra said in an exclusive interview with Pulse Ghana.
“I was quite shocked because I never knew we could make shoes in Ghana. After the wedding, I knew the bride so I called her and asked about the shoe her husband was wearing and she told me it was made in Ghana and from Kumasi.
“I took the shoemaker’s number from my friend, I called him and, afterwards, I went to Kumasi to meet the shoemaker personally. I told him I wanted him to make some shoes for me to sell and he agreed so we continued from there."
At this point Sandra was just into the selling of Ghana-made shoes, which she ordered from the shoemaker in Kumasi.
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It turned out to be good business but, as a vibrant lady who is very much entrepreneurship-minded, Sandra wanted to take it a step further.
The delays in delivery, coupled with the fact that her customer base was growing with each passing day, encouraged her to move from just buying and selling of shoes to opening her own shoemaking factory.
That was how Saint Ozwald Shoes was born!
“I realized people were really buying the shoes but I wasn’t getting [the sales] as I wanted it to be. This was because sometimes when I make an order for the shoes, it takes the shoemaker about two weeks, sometimes even a month, to get them for me.”
Saint Ozwald Shoes started with Sandra and two other shoemakers. The three, through hard work and zeal, gave the business a sound footing as they tried to break into the Ghanaian market with locally made shoes.
Soon the business began to grow – two more shoemakers joined, with four other apprentices also joining later, in what Sandra describes as creating the “dream business”.
“Finally, I got two more shoemakers to join me here. We stared training some apprentices and now I have eight shoemakers – four full-time shoemakers and four apprentices,” she narrates, adding that “it is not all about school. School is good but if you dint have the help you can also do something with your hand – you can learn shoemaking, tailoring or anything that can help you to make something for your pocket or build a dream for your life.”
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At 26, and already a successful businesswoman in the local shoemaking business, Sandra’s products are highly patronized across the country.
The likes of Nathaniel Attoh, ex-Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah, actor Prince David Osei and a couple of other celebs are regular customers of Saint Ozwald Shoes, but Sandra is not willing to rest on her laurels yet.
According to her, the dream is to take her locally made shoes global, with a target of reaching the level of worldwide shoemaking brands like Zara.
“I want to build a brand like Zara and the other brands. But Zara is the target because looking at how they have been able to expand their company – that’s my dream,” Sandra says.
At this rate, that dream is definitely on!