Cover Stories, Interviews, People

‘I’d love to collaborate with Christian Louboutin’ – luxury footwear designer Amaka Ononibaku behind Amystunner

Amaka Ononibaku, the lady behind the luxury footwear brand, Amystunner, is happy about where she’s in her entrepreneurial journey. But she’s aiming high, hopeful that her beautiful pieces will decorate shops across the nation and beyond soon.

With quite a number of celebs in her corner, she’s glad that her footwear passes easily the quality and comfort tests.

One of her dreams, in this chat with encomium.ng, is to collaborate with Christian Louboutin…

Why did you call your brand Amystunner? 

Amystunner has been what friends call me from a long time back. Largely because they consider me a fashionable woman.

Amy is simply the abbreviated for Amaka. Stunner is what I have always been referred to whenever I dressed and showed up.

So when I got the vision for the brand, I toyed with different names in my head but none resonated like ‘Amystunner’. 

I thought to myself that since that’s what I’m popularly known as anyway, then why not.

You only make men’s sandals and slippers? 

We craft for both male and female. But I dare say that we concentrate mostly on churning out male designs because they were typically our area of specialization from inception. We decided later to extend it to women at some point.

Why are your products different? What’s special about the sandals and slippers? 

Amystunner brand of footworks are different because apart from the evidently known fact that our products are crafted with nothing but 100% genuine leather, we also concentrate more on detailing.

Our finished products are as neatly finished as what is obtainable in the foreign sector, and this is by no means an exaggeration..

Hence our being sought after by various men in the Diaspora. 

We have been recommended as well to clients that love quality. We give nothing but value for money. 

Quality, detailing and durability are our watchwords.

What have you learnt these few years of being in the shoemaking industry?

Truthfully, I have learnt quite a number of things but the one that acts like a driving force to me would have to be ‘never ever conform’.

Yes, the industry is highly competitive. But the truth remains that as long as you offer value, the ones who identify and relate with what the brand represents will never relent in doing the needful.

Are you competing well with foreign brands?

Well, I will say yes. I mean for a brand that churns out handcrafted designs that are as well finished as this, with no powerful machines in place, then I will say we are not doing badly at all.

And because of the demand for our products, we are presently looking at having Amystunner footworks displayed in one or two known shops abroad.

Fingers crossed for now.

Who is the typical Amystunner client? 

The typical Amystunner client is that man or woman that not only loves quality but is ready to pay for it.

That man or woman that would rather buy a foreign produced footwear just because he/she feels same quality and finishing is not obtainable in Nigeria.

That is our target audience.

Amystunner was birthed to solve that problem of getting tackily produced footwears as opposed to a footwear that would stand the test of time.

Amystunner is here to quench that thirst for quality and detailing.

What do you clients say about your products? 

The feedback we get regularly are mind blowing.

Either from clients here or the numerous ones in the Diaspora.

It’s been all positive and we couldn’t be happier that we are meeting the needs of our respective clients.

It makes all the stress worth it, afterall. We are grateful.

Where do you see Amystunner in 5 years? 

I see Amystunner as a very big brand established with walk in showrooms in different parts of the country.

I also see Amystunner in several notable shops abroad.

God willing.

What are the most challenging issues in your business? 

Getting more able hands on deck.

This has been my most challenging amongst several others.

It has been very challenging to get cobblers that are capable of crafting the kind of well finished products that Amystunner is widely known for.

I have interviewed several shoemakers and their several works were presented to me but I was not impressed at all.. At least, as much as I would love to be.

Anybody that knows me knows I am very particular. So I would never settle for anything other than the standard I have set for the brand.

Secondly, getting certain raw materials to suit a client’s specification sometimes also poses a challenge. For instance, a client may want a sandal crafted for him with a green leather but we unfortunately may not be able to get that colour in the leather market at the time.

How many designs have you churned out so far?

So far, Amystunner has churned out about 40 beautiful designs.

Which is the number one design for sandals and slippers? 

All our designs are truly spectacular.

But if you are asking my favorite of them all, then it has to be our ‘MOFE’ design.

It was named after nollywood actor, Richard Mofe Damijo after he endorsed the Amystunner brand.

That endorsement got us a wider audience in terms of followership and numerous orders from a lot of people.

So we thought to appreciate him by naming one of our designs after him. I will always be ever grateful to him..

What are the major lessons you have learnt as an entrepreneur? 

As an entrepreneur, it has been super sweet as well as it has been sour sometimes. But if given an option to choose, i would choose being an entrepreneur over and over again.

So to answer the question, the challenges I face are seen as what spurs me on.

So much that I do not even see them as challenges anymore but my ginger factor.

Are you happy with where your business is? 

Slow and steady wins the race.

I have a greater vision for the brand and I know that with doggedness and consistency, we will get there eventually.

What’s a woman doing in a male dominated business? 

I guess my obsessive love for good shoes led me into the shoemaking industry.

I am an unrepentant shoe addict.

You really should see my personal collection of shoes.

What’s happening to your makeup business?

I absolutely love the brand, Christian Louboutin. So yes, I wouldn’t mind a collaboration.

Which shoe designer would you like to collaborate with? 

Oh yes, we have quite a number of them.

We have several politicians as our clients but I don’t think they would appreciate their names mentioned.

We understand that a lot of celebrities are your customers. Please, list some?

We have RMD, Mike Ezuruonye, Chinedu Ikedieze, Lasisi Elenu, etc, to mention a few.

How many of these celebs have endorsed your footwear?

The above mentioned names…

Not forgetting to add Seyi law, Julius Agwu, Ken Erics, etc.

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