Daniel Odonkor is a young Ghanaian entrepreneur the founder and creative director of Chaste shoes.
Chaste shoes is one of Ghana’s finest shoe brands that deals in the productions of world class premium leather products and handmade shoes.
Daniel while studying Construction Technology and Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in his second year decided to find a solution to his problem of having to buy new shoes every semester, because his shoes were wearing out by the end of each semester. In a quest to find a solution, that was how Daniel ventured in to the shoe making industry and has today become a Goto shoe brand in Ghana and Africa.
In a conversation with Limitless Motivation Daniel stated that it was trying to find solution to his own shoe needs as a student that was how what has become Chaste shoes today started. Daniel who had no idea on how to produce shoes himself approached some shoemakers closed to his hostel at the time and explained to them what type of shoe he wanted, but he was told they could not make his desired type of shoe.
Being someone who does not easily give up, Daniel went on youtube and searched for some videos on how to make shoes, downloaded some and then showed it to the shoemakers. After showing them the videos, the only thing left was for him to buy some tools and materials for the production to begin.
At this point Daniel encountered some financial challenges, the cost of obtaining the materials was much and he could not afford them given his pocket money. Also, while going through these processes Daniel’s idea was equally expanding that he did not only want to make shoes for himself but for others to buy too. In pursuance of his goal, Daniel went ahead to sell his laptop for GH600 the only prized possession he had to a friend in other to acquire the materials.
Daniel then made a simple sketch of the shoes he wanted and after about three or four trials they were able to get a pair that was good for him to wear. It was right after he had his own first pairs that Daniel began to show his new shoes to his course mates, church members and other friends. Daniel’s catch phrase was “can you believe these shoes were made for me here” and most responded unbelievable, how? He then told them that if they want he have some made for them too. So those interested made some payment upfront and in two weeks got their shoes delivered to them. And this was how it all started.
Daniel experimented with running a shoe business for the remaining years he had on campus, judiciously combining academic work and his business.
By this time Daniel had some clarity about his vision of making and selling shoes and knew that within 5 years after graduation, his mates would be in places where they would be capable of purchasing the kind of brand of shoes he wanted to introduce to the market. Hence he had the goal to ensure that at least 80 percent of the people he met in school knew about his shoes.
Daniel graduated in 2013, and while doing his national service he continued with his business on the side, financing it with his national service allowance.
National service ended in August 2014 and in December Daniel officially launched Chaste shoes. Not knowing how it was going to turn out, but he did it anyway. According to Daniel, he took a step of faith on his idea.
Daniel rented a small place in Madina and started production. With only one worker at that time which at a point let him down and quit the job. In just a year’s time, Daniel had literally nothing but a few products, a lot happened in that year (after the launch).
The next year (2016) wasn’t all rosy, but 2017 got much better. Daniel ensured the lessons from 2015 and 2016 didn’t get repeated. “One thing with doing business is that you need to start making the mistakes early enough that you don’t get to make them when the stakes get higher” he recounted.
In 2018 Daniel decided to study in school what he has been doing for all these years, entrepreneurship. After realising that understanding certain contexts is more important than action. “If you really understand what you are doing, you stand higher chances of going further on the success journey.
I started applying to schools. Trust me, that was a risk, because here I was as a founder going to be away from my business for a year or 2 (since I was considering going to the US as well).
I wanted my business to go international and global, so I knew getting into the education space in the Western world would give me the exposure and opportunity to network with potential clients, partners, and collaborators” he said.
Today Daniel’s shoes (Chaste Shoes) are being patronized by many renowned Ghanaians, and even making huge strides on the international market, because of the quality and aesthetic value of his shoe. Daniel now has an employee base of 8 workers and together with his team has the vision of producing good and world-class shoes from Africa that are affordable. And eventually becoming the most preferred shoe brand from Africa.
Brief Biography of Daniel Odonkor
Daniel grew up in Tema and had his primary and secondary education within the same community. Daniel graduated with a degree in Construction Technology and Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Daniel also holds two postgraduate diplomas one in Team and Project Management and the other in marketing, these are certificates he obtained while in his final year at KNUST. Daniel had his national service at a microfinance company where he served as a loan officer. After working on his business idea for about four years, Daniel went for a master’s degree in Global Entrepreneurship at the Coventry University, UK. While growing up, Daniel had the opportunity to assist his mother who was a trader in her store, which may have also contributed to his entrepreneurial spirit.
Final words: For young people who want to be entrepreneurs just do it and don’t listen to anything except good advice. Ignore all the negative comments you’ll hear, just go on with your idea. Be quick to make mistakes and learn from them and make sure you don’t repeat them. Also, ensure that you know everything about your business or the entrepreneurship venture you want to enter and at most a little bit about everything regarding your business and you’ll be fine.