Donatus Ehis, chief executive officer of the Lagos-based Donatus Ehis
What about the Donatus Ehis brand?
The Donatus Ehis brand is into bespoke handmade craft with focus on leather shoes and bags. We have been in operation for four years now.
How did you start?
I first got into shoe-making while in my second year at Covenant University. I loved technology and wanted to be a techpreneur. I came to Lagos in January 2015 from Makurdi, whe
The bishop had just finished preaching and it was time for personal supplication. I was expecting that when I close my eyes for prayers, I would just see myself suited up in a board meeting; instead, I began to see myself making shoes. Immediately, I opened my eyes and said, “God forbid; how can I graduate from Covenant University and start making shoes? Lord, if this is your plan, change it. I am not going to do it.”
Now, I laugh at myself anytime I remember this.
From that day, I began seeing shoes, everywhere.While walking or ea
So what has this steady and sustained rise to the top been like?
The top? Wow! Not yet. At first, it was not easy because I was not so passionate about it. I was making shoes because of the revelation. It wasn’t until after two years that I began to really enjoy what I was doing. I began to like the process and like every other business. It has been taxing, having itson and off days. But we push towards our goal.
What has been your key to success?
I would say dedication and persistence. At a point, I considered switching to a different career and it didn’t go so well. That’s a story for another day.
If you were to assess your performance so far, what would be on the scorecard and what areas are you hoping to improve on?
I would say 70 per cent so far. The brand is yet to perfect its logistics and attain its full potential. I believe strongly that there is always room for growth, always a next step. More so, the brand intends to diversify.
So, what legacy would you like to leave in the fashion industry?
The legacy we strive to leave is a brand known for quality products, timely delivery and satisfied customers in and out.
If you had to pick one issue or policy that isn’t being addressed by the government or on which we need to have a wider and more honest discussion as a nation about Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), what would it be?
I do not think about the government when doing business. I do what I can, and when I come across a wall, I try to find a way around, over or through it. However, I know how well government policies affect businesses, as providing an enabling environment for entrepreneurs is one of its primary tasks. The ban on importation of certain items is a step in the right direction, encouraging local production of items we require and consume. Further, any policy that, in the long run, reduces an entrepreneur’s cost of production should be explored.
What has being your biggest moment as a CEO? What do you enjoy most about your career?
I enjoy seeing people appreciate what I do and love what the Donatus Ehis team delivers. I consider every chance at making clients happy big. However, I am filled with so much joy when it is a wedding order, because I am happy when I get to contribute to someone’s big day.
Looking at the past, what would you have done differently?
Looking at what and how the business has grown, especially in the last year, I can only wish I engaged in social media better than I did. Social media is a vital digital tool and should be leveraged on properly by entrepreneurs.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I would have either gone into techpreneurship full time, manufacturing firearms, or a profession that involves carrying firearms. I have always loved intelligence and security. Who knows, I would have ended up in the secret service; probably a Department of State Services (DSS) or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official.
Where do you see the Donatus Ehis brand in the near future?
The Donatus Ehis brand seeks to become a global brand with strong presence all over the world. We are taking giant strides towards breaking into the international market and hope to have a firm and recognised foot by the end of 2019.
How would you advise young individuals venturing into this kind of business?
Find your passion early, go in and give it all you can. Remember, it won’t always go according to your plans. But going in without a plan makes it worse.
Who are your role models?
Aldo Bensadoun of Aldo Group and Jack Ma of Alibaba. I take inspiration from several business strategies they adopted in their respective fields and the steps they took towards their individual goals.
When you are not making shoes, what else do you do for fun?
Try not to judge me too harshly, but I have fun when discussing other business ventures with my friends. Most times, after work, I call my friend and partner, Chimebuka Okwuokenye,