By SYLVANIA AMBANI
Sheer grit. That is what sums 24 year-old Gabriel Modest’s rise from a ‘mutura’ seller to the owner of a jewelry empire in under two years.
But it was never easy and he never in his imagination ever thought it would happen.
His entrepreneurial journey started in 2013 while a student at Kenyatta University where he was studying economics and finance. He dropped out from the course, after studies took a toll on his ‘mutura’ business in South C.
“I used to miss most of the afternoon classes because that was the time I used to run to Burma market to get the meat, so that by 4pm when everyone is leaving their work place they can get mutura in my stand in South C.
“This made me miss a lot of the CATs (Continuous Assessment Tests) hence the total marks couldn’t be added. And the only way out was for me to repeat the whole semester,” Gabriel narrated to Nairobi News.
After deep soul searching, doing business won over pursuing education and he decided to focus on his ‘mutura’ business.
It lasted for for five months and thereafter he decided to change his trade to selling new and second-hand clothes in the same location. The new venture was not as promising.
At around the same time, his brother, who lives in Tanzania and owns a mine, started sending him rough gem stones and tasked him to sell them.
That is when the idea of starting a jewelry company hit him. In late 2014, Mr G collection was born.
He designs and customize the jewelry according to the client’s specifications.
“It was easier for me to start the company because I have a relative who owns a mine in Tanzania, so getting the gemstones is easy.”
For a gem stone to reach Kenya it must pass through a minimum of five brokers, starting from the miners.
After studying the market, he asked a friend who is a professional jeweler to quit his job and join him in his new venture.
Mr G collection is located on the second floor of the National Bank building along Harambee Avenue. He calls the premise a ‘representative office’ because they do not have ready-made items. They work strictly on orders placed by clients and this enabled him to start the business with zero capital.
“When a client is interested they choose the gem. I then have to call my suppliers and see if it is available. I then price it according to what the client wants, whether it is a necklace, ring, and bracelet and also the workmanship that is going to be involved. The client then pays an eighty percent deposit and this is the money I use to buy the stone and pay the crafters,” he explained.
Once the stone is acquired it is taken to a gemstone cutter who cuts according to the shape and size agreed. The stone is then taken to the gold smith or silver smith – depending on what the clients wants – to certify the authenticity of the stone.
One year after starting the business, he has been able to get clients as far as Uganda and Rwanda.
But how does a company that is mainly an online shop gain the trust of clients as far as Rwanda and Uganda?
“I mostly depend on my brand ambassadors, and also word of mouth helps a lot from the people who we have dealt with. It reassures them that I am not a conman but genuine,” he said.
An engagement ring encrusted with quartz can cost as little as sh10,000. Coloured stones are more expensive.
He plans to open a showroom where he can display some ready-made jewelry.