Hands up if you were ever taken to Balogun market or any other market as a child to find new school shoes or ‘Christmas shoes’. My mom would hold my hand tight and we would go from stall to stall looking for nice shoes.
I did not like the process at all. The market was rowdy, noisy and the shoe seller would always push my feet into the shiny, patent (and almost always tight) shoes and say ‘it’s your size! Fine girl, Fine shoe!’ Meanwhile my poor toes would be crying. I also had lovely aunties who lived abroad and they would send me beautiful shoes BUT they never fit!
I guess they just never asked what my shoe size was, they would buy the shoes thinking I would ‘grow into them’ not knowing that my feet were ‘already grown’ LOL When I turned 12, I refused to go shopping with mom for clothes or shoes. I went with friends or my young Aunt Lola. Clothes shopping were a breeze but shoe shopping in Lagos was very annoying and disappointing. There were lots of pretty shoes but they never had my size or they would have a size smaller. The shoes they had in my size were usually ugly and looked like canoes. When I traveled to the U.S for school, one of the things I was extra excited about was going to the mall! I would spend hours at the mall looking for the perfect shoes.
As usual, finding clothes were easy but shoes were still tough to find. Many times I would end up buying shoes that were a size smaller all because I liked them and they didn’t have my size. I would stuff my feet in the shoes and endure pain. At least the shoes were pretty. When I did find shoes in my size, I would buy them in every color I could find! The hassle of finding cute shoes when you wear a U.S11 in shoes! It was much easier in the summer because I could buy smaller sizes and get away with them because they were open toe styles or sling backs. The winter months were not funny. When I moved back to Nigeria, I faced the shoe issue again. I would go to boutiques and see shoes that were easily $30 in the U.S (N4, 000 – N4, 500 due to the dollar rate at that time) being sold here in Lagos for N20, 000!!
When I would travel for work or vacation, I took an extra suitcase for shoes. Yes! An extra suitcase! And I would hit the mall to look for all the colors available in my size and buy! In 2012, I started buying and selling shoes for women with big feet like me. I sold those through Twitter, BBM and Facebook mostly. I knew that I would one day start my own shoe line but I had no idea how to start. For two years, I did a lot of research, traveled a lot, spoke to lots of women and I’m happy to say Gbémisókè was born! There are a lot more styles and colors coming!
Not just these two colors! Please bear with us. Everyone has a sister or a friend who has big feet. Please introduce her to Gbémisókè. The shoes are available on Jumia and Konga (just search for Gbemisoke) and you fill find them. I didn’t want to have a ‘luxury line’ because let’s be honest, only a small fraction of Nigerians can afford it. I wanted something affordable! Times are hard! Thanks for reading my epistle and please support my hustle….
Written by Gbemi Olagbegi 🙂