Trained teacher turns knit­ting into cash

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Olayemi John-Mensah & Lat­i­fah Opoola

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

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