We love it when we stumble on beautifully crafted eyewear brands and when the brand creator is a Woman, then we are crazily enamored. Zainab Sarumi is a lifestyle blogger at officialshona. She is the owner of this really glorious brand called Soles and Shades, an exclusive Sunglasses and footwear brand. Zainab studied Urban and Regional Planning. The natural hair and lifestyle blogger has a deep love for photography makes everything she creates pop and shimmer in awesomeness.
Here we interview her and ask her a couple of questions about her work.
For Creative Girls: Hi, Zainab, your work is so cool and fabulous, we just want to steal everything! What’s your story into creating Soles n Shades?
Hi there, thank you so much. Well, I’ve always had interest in all types of Eyewear. As a child, the only thing I would save up to buy was cool sunglasses lol. Soles and Shades was launched just 5 months ago and I got the inspiration from my love for glasses and the cork inspired footwears. These were what I would rock as a little child and I always thought I was fly lol. That was what inspired Soles N Shades.
At what point did you decide to go into eyewear and shoe business?
I decided to go into the Eyewear and shoe business about last year, but Soles N Shades was launched just 5 months ago. I used to just sell Eyewears on my personal social media accounts especially Twitter. I had been thinking of a name to give my brand and when I wanted to start the footwear line, I thought it would be cool to build a brand around my personal brand (Shona) and call it Soles by Shona. But one Saturday in April, I was going through a feed on Instagram and I came across another eyewear brand and I was inspired by their creativity around their glasses and I thought to myself “nice shades” and that was where it came from. I decided to combine both the Soles N Shades together and it sounded perfect. That same day, I opened social media accounts and email for the brand even though I had no plan on how I was going to start, but I just did it anyways. So far it has been an amazing process.
What’s your creative process like? Share what a typical day in your life looks like?
A typical day in my life..hmmmn… I consider myself quite boring because I’m so focused on work, business, my brand, etc. Every day after my morning routine, I make sure I have a cup of coffee (which I think I’m slowly getting addicted to), check my email, reply messages, explore my Instagram feed. And then head over to the mini-corner in my room to work. As a creative, I’m always doing something on my laptop. I get inspired by so many things around me and I always ensure to take notes. I know what I want to achieve by the end of the day and I ensure that I get close to accomplishing most of them, if not all. So basically I Pray, Eat, Design.
Your style is colorful and quirky. How do you decide what goes with what when doing layouts?
I’m very particular about how I want my brand to be perceived especially with my Instagram feed. I feel like your Instagram feed kinds of says a lot about how you are (creatively). I ensure that colors, shadows, and contrasts are in sync when I’m doing my layout. If I’m going to post a colorful picture, I ensure that I get other pictures with the same feel to complement the previous images.
What difficulty have you faced since you started Soles n Shades? What advice will you give other women looking to start a Fashion product?
One of my major difficulty is logistics. Usually, the logistics partner is the middleman between a merchant and a buyer and I’ve had some bad experiences with delivery men. If I had my own way, I would deliver the products myself but the thing with business and being an entrepreneur is that you can’t do everything by yourself. Another major difficulty is quality assurance, producing handmade footwears in Nigeria is not easy and because I’m not making the regular flat sandals and slippers, it’s quite difficult to get the materials I want in the quality I want so we have to make do with what we have. Dealing with artisans is another long story, but like I said, you can’t do everything by yourself.
My advice to other women looking to start a fashion product is to create a niche for yourself. You may think there are so many people doing what you want to do but the truth is the sky is big enough for everyone to fly and no matter what you do, know your competition but don’t obsess over them, find ways to make your own product stand out with your branding, because branding is key. Branding helps your product to be perceived in the best way you want, however, don’t spend all your money on branding. Be creative, be fearless. Focus on winning because winners focus on winning and losers focus on winners.
Do you have any marketing tips and lessons for women starting a new business?
Of course, I do, from my little experience. Like I said earlier, branding is very important. Start by getting a business card made, a business card helps you to market your brand and products /services well. As small as a business card may seem, people will take you seriously when they see it. As a startup, don’t spend all your money on Ads, grow your business organically, grow your Instagram and Twitter pages organically, upload interesting and engaging contents, talk about what your business is about, stay creative and curate your feeds well, it’s highly important. There are so many fraudulent social media accounts and the only way for you to stand out is to create engagement on your business pages. Collaborate with other brands that would help your brand /business gain publicity (doesn’t have to be a big brand). Talk about your business, never be too shy to tell people about your business and what you do. Be consistent and creative because you don’t know who is watching your brand. Don’t offer free products or services to friends and family because they are the ones that can make or break your business.
What’s that one thing you’d like to change if you were given a Superpower?
Lol honestly, I don’t know. But will definitely let you know when I do.
3 Women you admire.
Haneefa Adam, I think she’s an outstanding creative. Arese Ugwo, I love how financially intelligent she is. I also admire Marie Forleo, her inspirational, motivational person, financial and emotional coaches are insightful.
Your favorite books and website.
I don’t find myself much of a reader but currently, my favorite book is Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu. I appreciate how detailed and insightful the book is. I also love the way it gives the readers the ability to perform exercises on how to track expenses, grow your money and gain financial independence. My favorite website is marieforleo.com.