General News of Tuesday, 15 May 2018
To avoid being an unemployed graduate, Solomon Kwashie, the founder of Spec Shine Cobblers, had planned becoming a modern shoeshine boy during his final-year at the University.
With a degree in Theoretical and Applied Biology from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Mr Kwashie left his lucratic long-sleeves-and-tie job as a manager of a clinic, to pursue his dream of becoming a shoeshine boy.
His desire for entrepreneurship led him to establish Specs Shine Cobblers in 2016.
Spec Shine Cobblers is a shoeshine and leather repair business in Accra. It is into polishing, re-colouring, restoring, and fixing shoes and any other leather accessories like belts and bags.
Despite having spent huge sums of money in educating him to the university level, Mr Kwashie said his parents are supportive of his job-change – from a white collar job to owning a shoeshine business.
“I have open-minded parents who are supportive of my business, they do not tie me down,” he told Moro Awudu, host of the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Monday, 14 May 2018.
Narrating how it all started, the 2009 KNUST graduate said: “The idea came to me when I was in my final year. I was thinking if after school I had no job, I was jobless, there was nothing to do, what will I do? And I thought about the fact that everybody dies, everybody wears clothes, everybody eats food, and the next thing everybody does is wear shoes, and, especially in this part of the world, I felt there is enormous heat, so, protecting your legs becomes an essential thing to do.
“So, I figured if I can’t do clothes business and I didn’t want to get into food business, then the best line of action for me was to get into the shoe business. So, I researched into becoming a cobbler.”
He said he chose shoe shining as a profession because “I didn’t like the way shoeshine people were treated. In Ghana, we associate shoe shining to dirty, unsophisticated and poor people but anything that earns you money should not be classified as not good enough.”
In defiance, he became a shoe shine boy “to prove to everybody else that a university degree doesn’t limit you to a job in the office”.
The beginning of Spec Shine Cobblers
“After school, I managed clinics for 4 to 5 years with my biology degree. When I started working, my boss had one practice, and in five years, he had five practices, so, I realised I was using the prime of my youth to help somebody else build their own empire and I decided that now that I’m healthy and fit, let me give mine a shot, so I left my old job.
“I had saved up some money to make the transition. I built my own shoeshine chairs with bamboo, cane and raffia and began business.”
Mr Kwashie said his shoe shine business is doing great. In his words: “Patronage is awesome.”
He has four employees and has his bamboo-made shoeshine chairs positioned at the Achimota Mall, Airport residential area and the Nyaho hospital street.
Kwashie said plans were far advanced to have a stand at any of the Melcom shops in Accra.
Beaming with pride, Mr Kwashie said: “When you visit any of my shops, you can hop in the shoeshine chair and instantly get your shoe shined, and after, you walk away”, adding that: “I enjoy the name shoeshine boy, too.”