Three former Kenyatta University students have established a business upon graduation after they worked on a ceramics light pot assignment and cemented a bond that gave birth to the start-up.
Mr George Kamiti was the first to venture into the business when a close friend requested him to make a set of beaded ceramic necklaces for a group of women planning a parents’ visit fete in two weeks.
“I quickly summoned Ms Ann Njoki and Ms Paula Onyango who were art and design undergraduates to work with me,” he says.
“We met the deadline and clinched a second deal from another member of the group.”
The trio has, through social media, marketed their wares ranging from interior design decors to ornamental regalia on their individual sites.
Mr Kamiti says their one-year-old firm earns them an average of Sh80,000 per month through sales at high-end fairs and shopping malls.
While most business was sourced by referrals and via the social media, the trio say ceramics artistry helped them to meet their day-to-day expenses.
Mr Kamiti says proceeds from the business helped him to finance his undergraduate studies.
The business has several corporate and individual clients who want their offices and houses decorated with ceramic items.
Ms Onyango adds: “Clients choose what they want and we mould the items for them. Designs can be sourced from magazines or websites and our work is to bring the ideas to life.”
Their specialties include contemporary ceramics, beadworks, decorative vases and pots.
She says Kenya has some of the best ceramic artists but needs an official online portal to market their work in decorating hotel lobbies, dining halls, meeting rooms and accommodation facilities.
“We have degrees in arts and design but we keep seeing hotels importing designers,” says Ms Onyango.
“Kenya must recognise art as a serious subject that has room for professional artists. Unless we appreciate this, Kenya will continue losing out to foreign products that many believe are better than locally-produced products.”
To boost sales, the trio exhibit their wares at trade fairs where they tap several deals. “We are talking to some malls to provide us with space during weekends to exhibit our wares where sales will be shared out on a percentage basis.
“This could see a reduction in imported machine-made ceramics ornaments’ sales,” she adds.
Ms Njoki recently attended a two-week course at WeCREATE Centre in Nairobi where she was trained in use of social media to target arts and design markets across the globe.
The lobby’s executive director Esther Wanjiru urges startups to utilise social media as well as network to boost their presence locally and abroad.
Ms Wanjiru says WeCREATE has trained 1,600 women in simple ways to use technology to network, create markets for their well packaged products.