BYP Blog: Sheriffdeen Tijani talks Thinking Outside the Box

July 17, 2019




Some weeks back, I got a call from a colleague who’s currently serving Nigeria as a youth corps member in a community in the capital city of Ikere-Ekiti. She told me had put me on a list of those speaking at her event on Wednesday, 19th June, 2019 at Oba Adegoriola, Palace of the Ogoga of Ikere Kingdom, Ikere-Ekiti. The programme which was aimed at orientating selected students from different schools in the community had “Think Outside The Box” as its theme. The programme which had nine other speakers in attendance featured career talk by professionals, networking as well as panel sessions. 


I was invited to talk to the secondary school students as a 'fashionpreneur', as I run two flourishing shoe and clothing brands, Classic Footee and Tailor respectively. I was saddled with the responsibility of helping the students understand that the course one secures a degree in shouldn't restrict one’s thoughts and actions, or limit one's dream.


I told the participants at the event of my journey into the fashion industry after having secured a Bachelors degree in Anatomy at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. From my early days in school, I asked myself some important questions which shaped my stay in school, the most important being my plans for the years after school, which unfortunately many fail to consider until days to graduation or convocation as the case maybe. 


I don’t find it surprising anymore when people marvel at the fact that I craft quality bespoke shoes and sew stylish traditional apparels in spite the fact that I’m an anatomist, and to me, it’s enough to explain the idea of thinking outside the box to the students. I made them understand how my shoe brand came to be. I sat myself down one day to reflect, and almost immediately a picture came to my mind - why do people opt for things made outside our country when there are people who make them here too?


A shoe was close by, so that prompted me to look the shoe industry way. If it’s possible to make a craft as good as the one Gucci makes here, then I don’t see any reason why people shouldn’t buy. I saw it has a challenge and was ready to offer a solution, and with that, a business idea popped in my head. I would start crafting shoes without compromising quality, sell at a relatively cheaper price, help people save while still spending, employ the services of professionals, thus, bringing more food to their table, involving a capable logistics brand for delivery, and just like that Classic Footee came up, which has since being reshaping the narratives around hand-made shoes in Nigeria. 


I mentioned to the participants at the programme that in looking outside the box, they need to first optimise the opportunities abound in the box, as that would prepare them ahead for the task of doing the extraordinary. I recounted an incident where I had to manage a loss of almost two hundred thousand naira months into the business, sometimes, happenings like this shake even the most determined, it’s the resolve to continue in spite the challenges that determine tough persons, but of course, it comes with having the interest of what one does att heart!


Tijani Sheriffdeen tweets at @docshe_42