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The Designer

Meet the Designer
Esther was born in 1988 in the village of Oro, Kwara State, Nigeria. Her family, originally from Ekiti State, moved to Ilorin when Esther was 7 years old. Her photographer father and her entrepreneurial mother raised 4 girls and 1 boy with love, Esther being the youngest. Esther’s father took a second wife (common in Africa) well before Esther was born. He moved back to Ekiti with the 2nd wife when Esther was 10 , but the rest of her family stayed in Ilorin. Her mother grew ill when Esther was in the equivalent of 7th grade (JSS1). In 2003, while Esther was in the equivalent of 10th grade (SS1), her mother could no longer work. With no other source of income, Esther’s brother and sisters found menial jobs to help support their now separated and ill mother. After completing the equivalent of high school, Esther also worked to support her mother and two sisters still living in the family home.

Esther has always been creative. She has made jewelry for years to make extra family money. She also makes purses, decorates cell phone cases and other accessories. She started designing and making handmade shoes in her mother’s house to sell locally. She gives all the credit to God for her amazing talents.

Esther and Mary became friends during the SS1 school year. Their friendship was long and enduring. Mary met Scott, from the United States, in 2008, and they married a year later. Mary and Scott founded The Joseph Foundation, Inc. in U.S, in late 2013, and were visiting Nigeria, in June 2014, to establish the Nigerian branch, known as the Joseph Homes Foundation. While having dinner at Esther’s mother’s house, Esther displayed her latest shoe designs to Mary and Scott. Made with the finest beads and Italian soles, they were stunned by the quality, beauty and comfort of the sandals. They prayed and felt The Joseph Foundation, Inc. should help Esther create a business selling her many designs.

Jobs are hard to come by in Nigeria. Esther was the top salesman at her microfinance bank. She would go door to door all day trying to generate new accounts. She was literally doing the work 5 others had done before her and receiving the equivalent of $133 per month income. Then after a long day’s work, she would go home and make shoes with her mother until sundown and then by candlelight (her mother’s home is wired for electricity but the power in her subdivision is often off for a month at a time!) In 2015, by faith, Esther left her job of 4+ years to make her designs become real full-time. Out of these humble beginnings, iLorin was born.