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Meet Ruby & Desy – Hand-made Shoes Creators

Meet Ruby & Desy – Hand-made Shoes Creators

Ruby & Desy

Akinola & Gbemisola Aleke (Ruby & Desy was founded by a couple) are creators of footwear and fashion accessories.

Ruby & Desy originally started out as a passion for handcraft or simply put, a hobby. “Then it advanced to being a hobby that people wanted to pay for. From wanting to make a matching pair of shoes for an aso oke clutch purse for my mum in 2004, I (Gbemi) was inquisitively drawn into the world of shoe-making.”

“Along the line, we (Gbemi & Akinola) met and shared a passion for making fashion accessories. This common love for creation eventually led to us formally establishing Ruby & Desy in 2016.”

Their major challenge had to do with production. “This is because we try to match international standards. As a result, we source our materials, especially leather, from other countries as well as locally. While this is being done, we still try to keep our prices as affordable as possible. However, feedback sometimes indicates that they are pricey. People forget or do not realize that products made in bulk from factories turn out cheaper. They assume that locally made goods should be cheaper.”


“While, we understand the reasons for such expectations, there are factors hindering this. For instance, if the environment was more enabling, and business owners did not have to provide infrastructure and other business needs by themselves, then the overheads and incidental costs would be better managed to accommodate their demands and make things more affordable without compromising on quality standards.”

“Finally, the finishing machinery are very capital intensive and not locally available. Though, we try to work around this through skilled handcrafts men.”


They draw inspiration from needs around them, brands they admire, lessons from past successes and mistakes, nature, the internet among others.

They mentioned a custom made shoe as a project that increased their confidence in their craft. “There was an order made by a client. It was to be used at a wedding. The client was very specific about what he wanted and the design was intricate. After the shoes were made, it was still missing something to make the finish amazing.”


“With some seasoned experience, a lot of caution and the right amount of heat and treatment to the leather, we achieved the client’s specifics. You can imagine it was a hit with him and others.”

“This experience was satisfying because it tested and pushed our limits. It got us aware of so much more we could achieve if we explored more and tried harder.”

Now, they are “looking forward to going into more partnerships for expansion, looking forward to more export opportunities as well.”


They also lent their voice on youth empowerment. “While we are aware that the environment might not be as enabling enough as we would like it to be, Nigerians have always found a way to get empowered.”

“There are a loads of empowerment initiatives (some free, others not), the internet has a vast load of free resources to empower anyone hungry enough for growth.”

“Our youth can be empowered through the right mentorship relationships (direct i.e. one on one and indirect i.e. from afar; through books etc).”


“Also, our youths can be empowered by making themselves available to learn from people willing to share. Even if it means to offer to help for free, no knowledge is lost. They can start small and expand as they go.”

“Lastly, there is a whole lot our youth can gain/ learn for free from the internet apart from Facebook, Instagram etc. With the right key search words, Google for example is a gold mine waiting to be tapped.

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“To bring this example home, Gbemi started shoe-making initially by ripping old shoes apart, searching the internet as far back as 2004 to learn how to make shoes, slippers etc. before formal training in 2008.  At the time (2004), resources were limited online compared to now. The opportunities are limitless now thanks to technology and user generated content on platforms like Youtube, blogs etc.”


Connect with Ruby and Desy via

Website: www.rubyanddesy.see.ng/

Instagram: @rubyndesy

Facebook: Ruby& Desy

Mobile: 09083915269,09083915271



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