I sincerely think that if a few years ago I had the same level of entrepreneurial acumen, creative and business spirit as Grace does, I honestly might have just been a billionaire, running a shoe line and maybe being super famous.
How? Let me explain. Sometime in 2009 I think, my elder brother came home with a new pair of slippers. He explained that he had just found this shoe-maker who made such beautiful slippers and sandals - for relatively cheap! And true to his word - all of his friends loved his new slippers, and he simply introduced them to the shoe maker.
I thought they were really nice and decided to get one for Tee as well. I also got a matching pair for myself. Back at Uni, Tee's friends loved it, and I ended up making a pair each for some of his friends at the cost price. And that was it. I didn't think to start a business or to scale.
But unlike me, Grace had a vision, saw a need and filled it! She is the brain behind Gafa Sandals, a Nigerian foot wear company that creates affordable and comfortable sandals in various colours and sizes, and this has been very successful. But Grace wears many hats, including being a journalist and a fashion blogger.
All of this is pretty inspiring, so as usual, I sought to get into her head and know what makes her tick. We talk business, blogging, growing up and all the fun stuff! Enjoy.
Is Alex really your last name? What's the story behind the name t2pitchy?
- Alex is my dad's first name and I just thought it will be nice to have it added to my name. T2Pitchy, is a funny one. In secondary school , a student painted me black with coal from a charcoal board and someone said you look pitchy (meaning black) and that's how the name came about
What is the most exciting thing in your life right now?
- I'm traveling for my masters in two months and it's been a two year journey to getting here so you can imagine how I feel!
How many GAFA sandals do you personally own?
- I was counting the other day and 14 pairs was what I came up with. That's because the others have been hijacked by family members
What inspires the design and colour of a particular sandal?
- Trends and basically the need to see that two odd colors that don't normally fit, come together
What's your vision statement for GAFA?
- I think that changes with time. But for now I want people to associate the brand with friendliness and comfort
As a journalist, what's one news story (from anywhere in the world) you wish you can cover / or had covered?
- The French elections I loved how the story unfolded but I would have loved to weigh the opinions of their youths and why they chose who they did
What's your long term goal / career aspirations as a journalist?
- I don't plan to practice journalism in the long run, but I do hope that I can pass my judgment on burning issues at every point in time.
If you were not a journalist or fashion blogger, what will you be doing?
- I love the Tech world so, most likely a programmer!
Instagram is such a great tool for bloggers and influencers and you have a decent 45k+follwers! What's your advice for growing a business and maximising it as a business tool?
- Be original. Find creative ways of making your brand reach out to people in ways they can relate with.
One Nigerian brand that absolutely inspire you to dream big?
- Ré Lagos - their designs are pushing boundaries.
As a young person running a business and a 9-5, what are the top 3 challenges? How do you rise above these?
- Just having time! To rest, to serve God & for family.
- I pay people to do some other things that take my time.
Blogging today comes with a lot of comparison! How do you deal with that?
- I do it because I love it, so that deals with the comparison issue.
What has been the most exciting thing that's happened to you via blogging?
- My campaign shoot with Jumia. I've had a 3 year work relationship with them and it's been good.
One habit you wish you could break right now
What city did you spend most of your childhood years. What two things did you like most about it?
- Zaria, Nigeria. I liked the togetherness of our Church fellowship as no one was ever alone
What one skill did you wish you learnt as a child?
- Playing the piano
2 favourite things from your childhood that you currently have and cherish?
- Pictures! I really don't have anything asides from that. Okay, maybe my school report card as well.
If you could teach one subject to a class of students, what would you teach and to what age group, and why?
- I already lecture Literature-in-English to an age group of 17-21 because I love to teach. Also it's their formative years so I get to have healthy talks with them about their future.
Top 3 ways to cheer yourself when things aren't going too well
- Read, Watch a Korean movie and Eat out!
Describe your ideal husband in three words; and the one meal you'll love him to know how to cook for you.
- Loves God, Handsome and Funny
One TV series you'll love to appear in and what role will you like to play?
- Law and Order. I'll want to be an investigator
Are you where you'd like to be right now with life? If not, what are your short terms goals for year end 2017? And medium and long term goals for the next 5 years?
- Not really but I'm satisfied with the pace. I'm going for my masters and my five year goal will be to have a showroom for Gafa sandals.
What 3 mistakes would you tell a 12 year old girl to avoid. And what 3 pieces of advice will you emphasize?
Mistakes to avoid
- Do not procrastinate
- No bad friends
- Avoid ungratefulness
- Love God
- Be conscious of your self-worth
- Pursue your dreams intentionally
Best compliment you've ever received
"You're a Strong Girl!"
...That was from my dad.
Well, we have to agree with Grace's dad, don't we? It takes a lot of strength to start and run a successful business in Nigeria and maintain all other hats as well. I love her advice about being intentional about your dreams. I'm not 12, but definitely taking that one to heart! We're so proud of what she's done with Gafa Sandals and we can't wait for all its future successes!
For starters, they'd be a giveaway soon in partnership with them, so look out for the details most likely on my Instagram, shortly!
Share your thoughts on this interview, and leave some words for Grace too, leting us know if you or someone you know owns a pair!
pS: You can tell Grace is really excited about masters, but she needs some help with funds! So here's her GoFundMe page. Remember it takes a village sometimes - every little helps!I spoke about ways to get scholarship for overseas study in this very helpful post and crowd funding is an option.