Creativity gave me opportunity in life

Thursday, April 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Tabitha Wanjiku a business idea that transformed her life.

Shining in the creative category in modelling gave Tabitha Wanjiku a business idea that transformed her life.

Jasmine Atieno @sparklesmine

As life is, not every success story comes from a beautifully moulded place. Some beautiful stories are born from a place of brokenness, where one has no choice but to be strong and innovative.

This is what 24-year-old Tabitha Wanjiku, a creative designer for  African women believes. 

Born and raised in Voi, Tabitha lived with her mother and sister. Unfortunately in 2012, when she was in Form Two at Moi Girls’ Secondary School in Taveta, her mother passed on, marking the end of her education as they could not afford it.

She had to get a job in a small boutique in Voi town to sustain the family. 

“I had always wanted to be a model or a vixen, but didn’t get a chance. I was a Miss World Kenya contestant in 2015/16 and I emerged second runners up in Miss Voi. 

I never won, but whenever I wore outfits in the creativity category, I left people speechless. That is how I got the real passion for creativity,” says Tabitha.

Starting was not the easiest, especially since she barely had support to begin her business. 

“You know, no one takes you seriously until they see the final product. So first I made shoes for me and another pair for my sister.

Some fittings did not go very well, so we had to do some adjustments, and I didn’t give up.

I made five more pairs, which I sold to my close friends. They loved them took photos shared them on social media and really that is when the journey began,” shares Tabitha.

Wholesale packages

She started with left-over pieces of fabric from tailors, which she purchased at Sh600 and made five more pairs of sandals. The proceeds from the sale went to buying more fabric and tools needed.

Tabitha works with only one tailor and her sister who offered to manage the business. Today, her business has three more employees working as tailors. 

Tabitha designs beautiful shoes and bags made from kitenge fabrics, which have gained so much popularity in Mombasa town and, especially in Nyali area.

Her marketing involves selling the shoes in the evenings at Maasai Beach Bar to patrons as well as operating an outlet in Mtwapa. 

Each pair of sandals costs Sh700 and a bag goes for Sh600. She also has a wholesale package of Sh5,400 for 12 pairs of sandals and Sh4,800 for a dozen of bags. 

The business became official in 2018 and the response, she says, has been amazing, especially from holidaymakers who buy in bulk and the local businesses who buy at wholesale prices. 

The advantage of being self employed, Tabitha says, is that she has gotten the privilege of giving other people an opportunity to also earn a living. For her, that is the most satisfying feeling.

Permanent solution

“Sometimes we get really big orders at the a time. When someone orders 100 pairs of shoes and 50 bags, I can’t be able to deliver such numbers with the number of staff I have and honour the set deadline.

It, thus, forces me to add more casual workers and they make their pay at the end of the work,” shares the young designer and model.

Despite that, Tabitha notes that the sandals she makes were a hot item that flew off the shelf so fast at the beginning.

However, the  bags are also picking up really well. And within a month she is able design and create 600 pairs of shoes and 200 bags, which is really good for her business. 

Like every investment, this has not come without its fair share of challenges.

The biggest for Tabitha has been machine breakdowns, which she has not been able to solve yet, but hopes to find a better and permanent solution for it soon. 

“Machines breakdown is the biggest challenge I have had to deal with over time. When I take a lot of wholesale orders than our machines can make sometimes things just break down.

But I am hoping to get more machines soon and employ more employees soon,” she says. 

Her future is filled with plans to not only increase her staff, but start working on export orders.  

She advises entrepreneurs not to wait for a huge infusion of capital. “Start with what you have.

People might not accept you at first; some may even discourage you, but don’t give up,” she says.   

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