How to Start A Shoe Making Business (Ultimate Guide)

Shoe making business in Nigeria

Considering starting a shoe making business in Nigeria? In this article, we’ll share with you all you need to get started.

As beautifully as you may have dressed, putting on a shoe is not a choice to complete your dressing, it is a must and these days, it is not just a matter of putting on a shoe, but wearing good and quality shoes.

One of the things people notice about you as soon as you are sighted is your footwear. Because everyone wears shoes, they form basic fashion accessories necessary to complete any outfit.

For this purpose, there is large market and big opportunity for you to make money in shoe manufacturing business. Yes, shoe making is one of the best business ideas in Nigeria today.

Shoes come in various shapes and sizes and are worn for different purposes. Either it is a sandal, slipper, or cover shoe.

Shoe Cobbler or Shoe Maker? The Difference

While I was growing up, anyone working on a sandal, slippers or shoe is a shoemaker irrespective of what he does with the shoe.

However, as time went by, I was made to understand there is a difference between repairing, amending a shoe, and making a new one from the raw material. So let us dig a little into that history.

According to a shoe cobbler is a person who mends and repairs shoes. The profession has been around for most of human history.

Some people assume that cobblers and shoemakers (called cordwainers in England) are the same profession, and while that may be true today, it wasn’t always so. 

At one time, shoemakers were the skilled artisans tasked with making shoes out of brand new leather, while cobblers were the ones who repaired shoes.

The difference between shoemaker and cobbler

In fact, cobblers were forbidden from working with new leather and had to use old leather for their repairs.

The difference between the two trades was once considered so vast; it was a serious insult to call a shoemaker a cobbler.

The shoemaking and cobbler trades were forced to merge around the beginning of the 19th century when the introduction of mass manufactured shoes left shoemakers out of work and having to accept lower-paying repair jobs.

What Is Shoe Making?

Shoemaking is the process of making footwear. Originally, shoes were made one at a time by hand.

Traditional handicraft shoemaking has now been largely superseded in the volume of shoes produced by industrial mass production of footwear, but not necessarily in quality, attention to detail, or craftsmanship.

Shoemaking or Footwear business is a lucrative business that anyone can do and make sustainable income. Everybody wears shoe.

Selling shoes is a great way to make money, especially in Nigeria.  You can start with a small investment and grow it.

With the advent of social media, you can leverage on your online presence to expand and make more sales.

Small Or Large Scale?

There are two ways you can start a footwear production company.

One way is to start small, making the shoes yourself. To achieve that you would need to be trained by someone who is skilled in shoe making.

Choose your trainer carefully, get someone who is well experienced on the job and produces shoes of various types and sizes regularly.

That is the common practice in Nigeria, yes, you stay under someone for some time as an apprentice. You would gain the skills and experiences needed. This requires less capital and more time. Most young entrepreneurs start like this.

Another way is to open a factory and employ skilled staff to handle production while you handle management.

You will need the services of creative shoe designers, production staff, marketing staff, etc. This is usually large-scale and requires more capital because you will need a factory, machinery, and experienced personnel.

The truth is if you want to start by yourself you don’t need that much to get started. You don’t need many tools, you don’t need fancy machinery.

However, you need to learn how to work with basic tools and materials and progress as you go on.

There are different types of shoes for different functions.

In the shoe-making industry today, it is important to manufacture both male and female shoes, young and adult, formal and informal shoes.

That way you will build a stronger customer base. Unlike tailors who sew clothing, they can decide to make only male or female clothes, or unisex as the case may be, a shoemaker on the other hand is expected traditionally to know how to make shoes for both males and females.

Related: 14 daily income businesses in Nigeria today

How to Start A Successful Shoe Making Business

Here are practicable tips that will help you start and succeed in the shoe making business.


Most people who make shoes usually start from their homes, especially when they are working on a small budget.

It is usually not a big deal. The important thing is to have access to the market for your shoes. If you have the funds to pay for a production site, you may want to locate your company close to your target market.

Also, consider access to raw materials when you choose a location. This would reduce the cost of transportation and other utilities.

Once you kick start and produce quality shoes, your location will no longer matter as your work speaks for you.

Your prospective customers will always take the pain to locate you wherever you are. So give quality and integrity a priority as you make your establishment, they will form the heart of your business.


You will need to do some market research, this is so that you are able to identify your potential customers and target market.

Also, you need to note that your findings would also help you determine where you can easily get the materials needed for making shoes.

Find out about the number of shoemakers in that vicinity. If you decided to start on a small scale by going through a form of training, then before you are through learning the processes involved in making shoes, you must acquire a lot of information needed to start your own business.

You will need to brand your products by creating a unique name for your footwear business which stands as an identity to your business or product.

A logo identifies your footwear to your customers. You can tag a logo along with your name. A good graphic designer can create a logo for you.

I noticed that this aspect is where many shoe manufacturers have gotten it wrong in the past. In this modern age, everything is about branding and packaging.

Therefore print a peculiar logo on all your shoes, make a design that catches the eye, and package your shoes in a unique style.

It is both a good market strategy and a way for customers to identify your shoes. That will definitely make you stand out from the competition.

Materials and equipment

Get the necessary tools needed for the job. As the article proceeds, I will discuss extensively on materials, tools, and equipment needed.


Choose prices that resonate with your brand. Have it in mind that there will be different customers at your doorstep, therefore you need to have various shoes your customers can choose from base on their individual pockets.

Sell both budget friendly and expensive shoes. Factor in the cost of production and advertising.

Related: How to start a real estate business in Nigeria today


To stay relevant in this dynamic evolving business of footwear production, you will need good market strategies. Use all available means to advertise your business. You can choose from the following but not limited to:

For a small-scale business, the cheapest, yet effective advertising method you can use is word of mouth. When you produce high quality shoes, your customers will spread the word about your craft.

If your budget is more robust, you could advertise your business on newspapers, magazines, television and radio.

You could also sponsor entertainment show that will advertise your brand to the public.

Use Social Media

Create a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account where you can post photos of your footwear and sell to customers.

Work with fashion bloggers, influencers and celebrities to promote your footwear, and see a rise in sales.

To increase sales you could apply for contracts, to supply to big clients that will need large quantity of shoes.

Examples of places where you may find big clients are; schools, manufacturing companies, banks, government organizations.

Materials and Tools For Shoemaking Business

As mentioned earlier you need tools and materials to get started. These are usually taken care of when you work under a professional as part of your training.

This is one reason training is very important. There is no one-size-fits-all equipment in shoemaking so you know exactly what you need when you get trained.

It is not necessary to get all the tools all at once; all you need for a start are the basics for production.

I will try to include as many as possible tools and materials needed in this article.

However, note that as technology advances new innovations are released, so you need to be up to date regarding the materials and tools once you have started.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

I put this first as it is popularly said that safety first and that health is wealth. Dust from filing shoe materials can be harmful to health when you are exposed to them ove a period of time.

Wearing a well-fitted mask or respirator is important to protect you from the dust, particles and fumes that you may be exposed to when making your own shoes.

You should also make sure to protect your eyes with suitable goggles.  Also, get an apron or overall to be worn while working.

Shoe Last

A shoe last is a mechanical form or hard pattern shaped like a human foot. It is used by shoemakers and cordwainers in the manufacture and repair of shoes.

Lasts typically come in pairs and have been made from various materials, including hardwoods, cast iron, and high-density plastics.

Masking Tape

This is a must-have material that you will use throughout the entire process. There is no need for special masking tape, it just needs to be a good quality tape and you can purchase it in every stationery store.

It is used to cover the last so as to draw your design on the last, and then later you will transfer this design to cardboard to make your basic pattern.

Related: Cottonseed oil business and production


It is the same compasses as you used in geometry class; at least it has the same function, so if you can’t find the shoemaker compasses just buy the ordinary one.  

Utility Knife & Cutting Board

Trust me, not only women in the kitchen or butchers use knives. With its blades changed regularly so that it is always sharp, a utility knife works very well for cutting out your leather and soling materials.

For thicker substances such as some type of leather and soles, you may need to run your knife along the cutting line several times.

Just be patient with it, and remember to always cut parallel to your body not towards yourself, in case the knife slips. In addition, any plastic or wooden board that can be used for cutting


You must have a glue for the shoemaking process. There are many different types of this glue, what’s important is that it must be the glue for leather only.

Hole Punch

You can purchase individual hole punches that each cut a different sized hole and require a hammer to punch them.

However, a rotary punch is a great alternative for most purposes, enabling you to punch holes in a variety of sizes using just one piece of equipment.

You can also use the hole punch in combination with your utility knife to cut slots for sandal straps and holes for button studs


There are many hammers that you can use for folding or to flat the seams after sewing and to attach the sole. This tool in your arsenal is important.

Pincers for Lasting

In lasting, you need to consider the type of leather that we use. You need to know how to last different shoe models and it is very important to have comfortable pincers for that purpose.

Related: How to start a bread making business in Nigeria


There are two types of nails that you must have, long nails and short nails.

shoe making tools and equipment


Any basic craft or painting small brush will work for applying glue. You can choose a brush that has its bristles approximately 1.5 cm wide, but whatever size you find comfortable to work with and is available is equally fine. 

Note that over time the glue will ruin the brush.


It’s useful to have a couple of grades of sandpaper in your shoemaking toolkit.

A rougher grade can be used to prepare leather and soling for gluing, and finer grade sandpaper helps to smooth and give a nice finish to the edges of your insoles and soles.  A motorized electrical bench-mounted grinder can also be used for this purpose.

Sewing Machine

There are many advanced and new machines there obviously for joining leathers and to make patterns and designs on your leather work.

After everything has been put in place you can now start production. If your intention is to start small, you might not require heavy machinery. The production process depends on the type of shoe to be made. Basically it involves; cutting the materials, creating the base and the heel, creating the top and side of the shoe and gluing or sewing them together. Other production process might involve packaging and transportation of the shoes to the warehouses and market for sales

Summary of Shoe Making In Business

Producing footwear requires hard work, skill, effort, and creativity. In the end, footwear production is a very rewarding venture.

Do not be deceived into the fact that being a shoemaker is a degrading profession. As you must have seen in this article a lot is involved in setting up a shoe-making business.

As time goes by, you will have apprentices to teach the trade and help establish their own business too.

Did you find this piece to be resourceful? Let’s have your comment in the box provided below. Also, don’t forget to like and share this piece.

Even More Topics:

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.