Here's How Shekudo Rises Above Sourcing Challenges to Create Unique Sustainable Products.
Africa is a multi-billion dollar continent filled with so many opportunities and creative minds. Many fashion entrepreneurs have stemmed from Africa and have now become internationally recognised across the globe, some of which are Kenneth Ize and Loza Maleombho.
Shekudo is a footwear and accessories brand that is based in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria. The fashion brand is one that drives unique sustainable solutions and female empowerment. So, compared to other fashion brands such as Dew Davies, what makes the Shekudo brand stand out? And what have they implemented in their brand structure to make it unique?
When a fashion brand focuses on the local artisan and craftsmanship scene while integrating age-old technique to create contemporary products, they usually turn out unique. And this is one of the things that makes Shekudo stand out.
Shekudo is a fashion brand that designs footwears such as mules, and other accessories, like earrings, to foster and contribute to the growth of the Nigerian manufacturing industry.
The brand is owned by Amy Akudo Iheakanwa, a Nigerian-Australian designer who is largely inspired by the craftsmanship in Nigeria.
“My sole purpose is to work with artisans here in Nigeria and expose the craftsmanship that we have here, whether it’s through shoemaking, our silversmiths, ceramics or weavers.” - Amy Akudo Iheakanwa
Shekudo is also a sustainable fashion brand as they make use of locally sourced materials like local leather, aso-oke, akwete, local cotton, wood, brass, silver, and lots more.
“Sustainability has always been kind of natural for us. I was amazed by the potential we had here when I saw our crafts and traditions. I felt they could be revamped, have a little bit of contemporary flavour added to them and be showcased to the rest of the world. I didn’t realise I was building a sustainable brand in the beginning.”
One thing that stands out in the Shekudo brand is how they found more sustainable solutions rather than importing their materials.
Being particular about craftsmanship and female empowerment, Amy Akudo Iheakanwa works with artisans all over Nigeria that have fantastic skills and take pride in their work.
“On one hand, there are fantastic skilled artisans and on the other hand, you can find people who are just too relaxed on the finishing.”
The brand owner strikes a balance with this by getting consultants that can help the brand generally see how they can do better in terms of training and production methods. As a sustainable brand also, most of the materials utilised in the brand are locally made.
“When I was trying to order heels, for example, I didn’t want to import. When you import materials, you have to order quite a large minimum quantity and this is difficult when starting out.” - Amy Akudo Iheakanwa
So now, for example, most of their high heels are carved from local wood by carpenters rather than other imported ones, and this was a real sustainable solution. By working locally and supporting these local sellers, Shekudo has managed to design a sustainable solution where they would always have local access to the materials needed which, in turn, helps to maximise what is on ground.
Zashadu is a fashion accessories brand that specializes in hand-crafted leather pieces for modern women. Their bags are designed to strike a balance between quiet elegance and unabashed glamour.
The brand is owned by Zainab Ashadu, a designer and creative who uses the ancient art of tanning and leather-dyeing techniques from Northern Nigeria to create modern and colourful products.
The Ghanaian fashion accessories brand, AAKS is one that makes use of traditional, intricate methods of weaving to design bright, specially handcrafted products. One thing that makes this fashion brand stand out is how they make use of solely locally sourced raffia to design their products, which range from handbags to tote bags, shoulder bags and many more.
The fashion brand is owned by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, a Ghanaian creative with a great passion for art and fashion.
The Shekudo brand creates pieces for adventurous, bold, unapologetic, charismatic and a little bit of sassy women.
“Each of our pieces has a unique story behind them and are created by cheeky, charismatic, often dramatic craftsmen and women. So, the Shekudo woman must not be afraid to let this side of her show and she will be expecting comments and compliments on her style.”
Apart from creating unique products out of sustainable materials, the brand owner of Shekudo is also passionate about female empowerment and this is made obvious through the training they conduct.
“For me, female empowerment is a priority. We want to be able to employ women of all ages, and since I have been able to work with a lot of women in my career in Australia, it is a soft spot for me.” - Amy Akudo Iheakanwa
The Shekudo brand is one that drives sustainability at its core while paying attention to the growth of artisans, especially female artisans, and the Nigerian manufacturing industry at large.