Nigerian lady cobbler and entrepreneur, Florence Bodex Hungbo, is advising young girls seeking to have a career in male-dominated professions like shoemaking, painting, mechanics and not to be intimidated but have a strong mindset to succeed no matter the odds.
She reminded them that it’s their handwork that put money in their pockets and not what people say or think about them.
The female entrepreneur was speaking during an appearance on Silverbird News24 breakfast show, NewsHub to mark the International Women’s Day in March 8.
According to her, “I feel discriminated doing male-dominated work, but I really don’t care because it’s all about how well you carry your brand and your mindset about being a lady doing fabulously well in a male-dominated environment which is the main focus and the selling point.”
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Asked how she got into shoemaking business, she said: “I was pushed into shoemaking due to depression that led to almost taking my life.
“I paid a shoemaker N30,000 at Ajegunle to learn the trade. And I have no regrets because today, I make shoes for governors, ministers, celebrities and so on.
“After my training, I started making branded shoes with ‘Bodex media’ written on it to cover all types of events.
“I had no intention of making it a money-making venture until a Nollywood actress commissioned me to make four pairs of shoes worth N20,000, which I said it’s pay before service and she obliged.
“Now, that token became the seed money I invested to start the Bodex Footwear.
“Before I got into the business, I had to study my environment first knowing that almost everyone wears and must need a shoe.
“If you are in my shoes, you need to also ask yourself what is selling where you are. Yea, you might be frightened for being in a male-dominated industry but for the love of choosing to challenge, such narrative is the least you want to dwell on.
“Don’t feel threatened for doing what men are known for as physical appearance is different from your hands strength and deliverable.”
Bodex disclosed that she also runs an NGO known as BEWI AFRICA (Bodex Exceptional Women Initiative).
She revealed that she talks to young girls on the streets about shoemaking, mechanics, painting and so on, where they are trained for free and taught about the gains in shoemaking in her factory situated at Surulere.
“I tell them it’s a male-dominated work, but you have to choose one and make it work if we are really fighting for gender equality.
“The lockdown due to Covid-19 affected our work, but we had to resort to online advertisements and also kept in touch with some of our existing clients. The effect of COVID-19 wasn’t that much since it’s a selling business.
“I always tell young girls stereotypes is a mindset not society impacted thought and so long as someone else, either a man or woman, had done it before or now, then we can always do it.”