Building A Luxury Brand For Nigeria’s 1%

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The 1% of the 1% is grammar to describe the wealthy; the ones Sapa can't touch. So what do the 1% all have in common? Exclusivity and luxury. They wear things you would hardly find just anywhere. Oh, and Ruzzetti, many of these people have been spotted wearing his brand. From actors to artists, even chefs, everywhere we looked, we saw that the RB logo was in our faces.

So we decided to have a chat with Ruzzetti to give us insights into how he built a business brand to cater to the 1% and maintains it.

What is Ruzzetti bespoke, and how did it start?

Ruzzetti bespoke is Joweigha Ebimie Kevin; that's me. I am Ijaw from Ondo state. We specialise in luxury footwear; The brand is four years old at the moment; I started on the 26th of January 2018 when I was in Uni. Back then, I wore a lot of bespoke stuff because I never really liked wearing the same thing as everyone else. I preferred to stand out and hence had most of what I wore handmade. So I created a business out of my persona.

How would you describe shoemaking?

Shoemaking is an art.. There's a whole process to it, from visualising the designs, then designing them from scratch and piecing all the materials together into a shoe.

What has running a luxury brand taught you?

Different people have different opinions on what luxury truly means, and you have to treat customers equally; you have to listen to them and respect them. Because customers react differently, I learnt that you should always listen to the ones with the most feedback; it helps your business grow.

What is the Ruzzetti signature style?

The quality and logo. I have made an effort to make my product very distinct from the standard shoes you would generally find anywhere. I sketch the designs myself, so it's easy to tell it's different. I try not to copy. Instead, I use other creations as inspiration to create something better. For every 30 designs I make, I can assure you that 25 of them were my sole creations. Therefore, 83% of my shoes are my creative designs.

What steps would you advise to take on a problematic customer?

It would help if you always were systematic in business; you always have to tell them the rules when dealing with them so no complaints will be made. For example, in my business, I always tell customers we close by 9 pm, so after 9 pm, no messages will be attended to until the following morning, and we do not do refunds. Still, we offer a refund when the mistake is from our fund.

What has been your craziest experience so far?

My craziest experience was in 2019, I had someone that wanted to invest, and I tried it out six months later, I found out he was stealing from my business account.

Remember that you can avoid this by taking legal advice from a lawyer before entering into a business partnership.

And with a client, my craziest experience was when a customer gave me the wrong shoe size and then went berserk demanding that we remake the shoes even though it was her error. And we made 6 shoes!!!

How much did it cost to start Ruzzetti?

I can't be precise about the amount, but I did not have enough money to start my business, so instead, I sold the idea to my friends and got them to make their designs instead of asking for money to jumpstart the business. My original cost price at the time was #9,000, and I sold them for #13,000. I had planned to sell 10, but I ended up selling 45.

Based on your experiences, what advice would you give an inspiring entrepreneur like yourself?

Your business idea should first start with a vision; then it should proceed to execution because you know what you want to do, where you want to be and how you want to do it.

Final question: Where do you see Ruzzetti in the next five years?

In 5 years, I see Ruzzetti in a more stable place; I would like to get a large scale workshop; I will be 95% in control of my business and its finances, like being in control of the logistics and what not; and probably make the brand international as well.

What We Learnt

Building a business that caters to celebrities, influential people or that 1% of the society is not easy or straightforward. It involves a lot of thought towards how you plan to stand out. Don’t forget to start by checking your finances to help the business grow. Record your sales and expenses, manage your customers well and get your business reports easily with Kippa App.

Hafeedoh Balogun

Hafeedoh Balogun