Helen Bogie FCIM CMktr PgDip BA (Hons)
- Marketing & Business Development Director
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Londoner Tomiwa Sosanya is just 23 years old and recently graduated with a degree in computer science from the University of Kent. Yet for the past four years, he has been building a business creating customised shoes and clothing through his business Do You Customs.
It is a business that has grown every year, with a following of loyal and enthusiastic customers snapping up his stand-out designs. We have been there for the journey, providing tax and accountancy support together with business mentoring.
Do You Customs was born out of Tomiwa’s love of painting and design. Bored with the trainers offered on the high street and with the bespoke offering from the leading brands commanding silly prices, he decided to create his own designs. Very quickly friends and friends of friends were asking him to create bespoke designs and a business emerged.
“I grew up in a home where my dad was always fixing things and mum was working as a seamstress making clothes from scratch. It was kind of natural for me to make stuff,” Tomiwa explains.
“When I made a pair of shoes for a friend I was like ‘let’s take a picture put this on Instagram and eBay and see what happens. It snowballed from there.”
The trainer or sneaker market is booming with big brand shoes often selling for hundreds if not thousands of pounds. They are out of reach to all but those with the deepest pockets.
Tomiwa buys shoes – Nike Air Force 1s and Old Skool Vans – adding his own flare and designs which retail for £130 and more. Each pair is unique, hand created and designed to be worn. And in a market where buyers want to stand out, Do You Customs is in demand.
Do You Customs has grown consistently over the past four years adding bespoke jeans, denim jackets, beanies and face masks, with Tomiwa studying during the day and working evenings. Do You Customs is also regularly commissioned for one-off pieces for its customers.
It has been a steep learning curve for Tomiwa, who is responsible for making each piece, determining their value, marketing, sales and, of course, tax and accounting. Now that he has finished his studies, he is preparing to invest all of his time into the business.
The run-up to Christmas 2020 was a defining moment for the young business when Tomiwa’s designs were stocked by a leading retailer in London and with his shoes being sold via the Etsy and eBay market places. Additional help was brought in to meet the growing demand.
“Our website shows how I create my shoes and we will be increasing our marketing and social media promotions this year,” says Tomiwa. “I’m also hoping to bring in help into the business to support that growth.”
Tomiwa was introduced to Kreston Reeves via the Aspire programme run by the University of Kent. Aspire helps entrepreneurs and young business get off the ground and grow. On joining the programme in 2019 he was invited to pitch his business idea to a panel of judges, including Kreston Reeves, winning £1,500 of accountancy advice giving his business the start it needed.
“Kreston Reeves has been supportive in every single way you can imagine,” says Tomiwa. “They have helped with my books, tax and now moving onto QuickBooks. They have helped me understand what is needed to run a business and the information that is required.”
Steven Morley, a business services manager at Kreston Reeves, has worked with Tomiwa on training and the company’s compliance needs. “Entrepreneurs, like Tomiwa, are rightly focused on their business, yet they need to also ensure they keep on top of their filings to prevent penalties from Companies House and HMRC. It has been wonderful to guide Tomiwa on this journey, helping him understand the compliance required to run a company, as well as training him on his QuickBooks package to keep his business heading in the right direction.
“Online accounting software such as Xero or QuickBooks Online are often the perfect platforms for businesses like Do You Customs, with their ability to link directly into retail sites like Etsy, Ebay and Amazon.”
Tomiwa is passionate about encouraging other young people to take the leap and start their own businesses.
“Just do it. The internet has made it so easy to reach customers, and there are plenty of places you can turn to for advice. And don’t be scared to fail, because when you fail you learn and will bounce back better. Just get out there.”
Do You Customs whilst still a small business has large ambitions. Tomiwa’s shoes are being sold in over 20 countries and over the next five years will double. New designs, new products and a team of dedicated designers are all on the cards.
“You’ve got to do you,” says Tomiwa and Do You Customs does just that.
Learn more about Do You Customs.
This year Kreston Reeves is celebrating 200 years of history. We are using the significant milestone as an opportunity to celebrate our clients, our colleagues, and our communities! Find out more.
"Kreston Reeves has been supportive in every single way you can imagine. They have helped with my books, tax and now moving onto QuickBooks. They have helped me understand what is needed to run a business and the information that is required."
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