Trained teacher turns knitting into cash
Mrs Linda Uranma trained as a teacher at the Enugu State College of Education but, today, she has downed her chalk and fully taken to knitting to earn cash. Uranma knits, among other wears, sweaters and caps for which she currently enjoys a sizeable clientele in Abuja and its environs.
Knitting is a creative work by which yarn is manipulated to create a textile or fabric. The art creates multiple loops of yarn, called stitches, in a line or tube with multiple active stitches on the needle at one time.
So why would a trained teacher abandon the classroom for a chart in the uncertain waters of business? As Uranma told the Daily Trust, her love for creativity and passion for business brought her into what she is doing now. “I have always been creatively ambidextrous. In secondary school, I used to make hair net for sale. Women bought these nets to cover their hair and I would make little profits from the trade. When I was at the college of education, I continued knitting for sale to my colleagues on campus.”
After her graduation, Uranma thought of going the extra mile on commercializing her knitting skills. She then expanded knitting different styles and coupling them into shoes, sandals, clutches and bags for sales.
Her production process involves knitting from Monday to Friday and coupling them on Saturday. This, she said, is to enable her have enough materials to couple over the weekend.
“I wore the first pair of sandals I made to promote my work, and many people admired and demanded for it. My sister was the first to patronise me due to the uniqueness of the sandal. From there, many people ordered for more. That’s how I was encouraged into large production for sale,” she said.
From casual knit wears, Uranma has been designing shoes, sandals, clutches, slippers and bags, with matching clothes for the office and occasions.
The mother of two said she started producing in commercial quantities in 2010.
Starting the business, she explained, requires little or no capital as one can pick the raw material in the local market and produce what is needed as demand arises. “I started very small by getting the material based on what I needed to produce then. I would buy the thread in rolls for between N800 to N1000 per roll. All the materials needed to do my business are in Nigeria. I source the sole for the shoes from Aba market so I do not need to travel outside the country to get them.
She described the business as lucrative, especially if the entrepreneur would only be patient. “It is a business that records high patronage and sales throughout the year. The uniqueness of the products attracts customers. There is no time that we record low sales. For example, if I am able to couple up to 20 pairs, they are sent out and sold in no time. I produce an average of 50 pairs of shoes in a month. Prices of flat slippers and sandals range from N2000 to N3500, while a pair of clutches can be anything from N600 to N8000. Unlike materials made of leather, knitted wears can be washed when they are dirty,” she said.
As it is with other businesses, Mrs. Uranma’s major challenge is her lack of funds to procure the machine to do mass production. “I have been surfing the net for the relevant machines and I did see one, but I am still waiting for when the dollar rate will come down so that I can go for it. For now, I do everything manually. That alone is a big challenge,” she said.
Another challenge is accessing a bank loan. She remarked, “I have not been able to take a loan from any bank because I do not have the requirements and that is another challenge. You must have a strong collateral before going to a bank to ask for a loan.”
Within the five years that she has been in the business, she has produced another entrepreneur whom she trained. That gives her great joy. She charges between N50,000 and N80,000 to train an apprentice, depending on the duration, which ranges from two to four weeks. “It is better to do four weeks training for effective knowledge of the work,” she advised.
Mrs. Uranma called on other women not to solely depend on their educational certificates for survival, but to find a way of adding value to their lives and those of their families. She advised that women should learn one craft or the other to add value to their lives. “Do not just wait for your husbands to do everything,” she urged.
Uranma displaying some of her products