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Shoe sales booming after Expo Jamaica

(Right) O'neil Hall, founder Mek-A-Moves Promotions, showing Access Financial's Chief Executive Officer (Actg) Hugh Campbell a pair of his shoes.

MEK-A-MOVES’ Promotions, the creator of shoes and sandals, is seeing a boost in orders on the heels of the recent staging of Expo Jamaica.

The business, which was primarily focused on shoe repairs for any walk-in customer and custom build shoes for reggae artist Capelton, was given a big boost from its showcasing at the expo which has seen the orders triple within 48 hours of being at the show.

“The expo gave me an exposure where I met a few people local and international and you have a few people even send in some orders so now I’m contemplating how I’ll even fulfil those orders,” said the founder of Mek-A-Moves O’neil Hall who was excited to share his story with the Jamaica Observer.

He further added, “After the expo, I notice a whole lot of calls and orders — someone called that I met at the expo that wants to have a look at the shop to make a couple of orders to put in his store and he would need 10 pairs to have in his store for display.”

The business was also co-founded by his brother Kenneth Allen and the two are now grappling with the influx of orders, describing the experience as an overnight success.

“I always hear everything is a process and you have to go through the process and all of that but the expo has established a whole lot of potential customers. I can hardly find words to express how I’m feeling right now,” he said blushingly.

Even while speaking with the Business Observer, Hall was pressed for time to return to work to fulfil over 20 orders for different customers arising from just the expo alone. The business is currently operating with just two people, Hall and his brother, and with the orders rolling in, while he remains the go-to shoemaker for a music artist, he says the business will need additional hands.

“That’s why I have to extend the workforce now, so if something like that comes again [large orders] we can meet the demand,” Hall said.

Mek-A-Moves had two footwear styles on display at the expo, the Ken-DaDa, which was designed by his brother Kenneth Allen, and The Dub-step sandals, created by a friend of Allen, Ricardo Stewart, and named in honour of his father who is called “Da Da”. That design attracted a lot of attention at the expo. The footwear is handcrafted and made with genuine leather. It is the top seller, accounting for 50 per cent of all sales and profits.

“Leading up to the Expo Jamaica I decided that I am going to customise my own shoes, and I’m going to name my shoes line ‘Mek-A-Move’; so we actually made up two pairs of shoes,” said Hall. Although he got no sales on the day, he said orders for the shoes have been coming in.

The shoe designer is now hunting for additional funding to purchase all the materials he needs to be able to provide shoes for everyone quickly.

“I have to be looking around now to see where I’m going to acquire the funds for the project right now. This morning I was speaking to a person I’m trying to establish a connection with, so that I can maybe acquire a $1.5-million or a $2-million loan so I can sort out gathering materials to fill these orders that are coming in,” Hall said hurriedly.

Prior to the expo, the business received financial assistance from Access Financial which Hall says he’s forever grateful for because the microfinance institution also helped him with more than just financing, because they arranged for him to be at the expo.

“I can’t thank them enough,” he said.

Since more eyes are now on the business, Hall is now more cognisant of the location of his shop as he currently operates from home. The desire is to expand to a different location from which he can operate and accommodate customers.

The next challenge he is now facing along with seeking additional funding is sourcing materials which he says has been difficult to get locally.

“I would ask friends coming down from the States to bring a piece of leather or bring a couple of things that can add to the bottom of the shoes. What I really want to get into, is the ready-make bottoms, so you don’t need to buy a whole sheet of material and cut into it because it’s already made up, and that’s difficult to get here” Hall explained.

He said this material would give it the finish that is ideal and additional funding could also help him to acquire more advanced technology to produce more quantities quickly.

“We only make stuff from genuine leather, handcrafted. We make two to three pairs per day. As we grow and expand, we are looking to acquire some machine for the business, one that does the stitching and one which does a different aspect of the whole shoemaking process,” he added.

Right now the business only has a sewing machine to do the stitching and dress the shoes.

Hall said he and his brother learnt the trade of shoemaking from his stepfather growing up and they always dream of owning a shoe business. Seeing his mother clean offices in the afternoons motivated him to keep trying towards that dream.

“I see and say no man, my mother deserves far better. Way, way more than this. So I decided I have to do something. So I went on a mission, a journey so I have to set a groundation,” Hall shared.

With the knowledge of being in business for over 15 years, he said he wishes to establish a partnership with the HEART/NSTA Trust to teach younger people the trade.

“I’m thinking, we have a legacy here and I want to teach this,” said Hall.



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