The school third term, which September to November, is one of the high seasons for Shekina Kigame, who designs cards. This is the season of exams and success cards are needed in plenty.
“I get the most orders during the exam period as well as over the holidays in April, August and December, where I can have an order for 100 cards in a month,” saiys Ms Shekinah.
“Because I make the cards by hand and work with just my sister, I am not able to take in too many orders.”
Ms Shekinah is the founder of SWK Creationz, a company she established in 2017 after graduating from Kenyatta University with a bachelor’s degree in music.
Her customers are those seeking cards for children’s birthdays, corporate events, baby showers and bridal showers as well as wedding invitations. She meets with them to discuss the designs, before purchasing the required materials.
“My clientele is very wide because I believe that through a lovely card you can touch the lives of anyone and put a smile on their face,” says Ms Shekinah.
The 24-year-old traces her love for craft to when she was in kindergarten. Paint and colouring was her favourite subject and she would even paint on the walls of her bedroom as a way of expression.
When she joined Moi Girls High School, Eldoret in 2008, she continued engaging in crafts by making bookmarks and birthday cards for fellow students.However, it was not until joining the university in 2012 that she realised she could turn her passion for crafts into a business, together with her elder sister Shalom Kigame who is also a card designer.
“My breakthrough came in my first year on campus when a family friend who owned a small supermarket saw my cards and really loved them.
“He ordered at least 20 cards and would pay me when he sold them, at the time they cost Sh150,” she says.
This gave her a platform to showcase her work and two years later, she got one of her biggest orders to make wedding invitations.
This motivated her and when she completed campus, Ms Shekinah conducted research on the business in Kenya and realised she could carve out a niche of handmade cards with unique designs.
“I did not undergo any formal training but I enhanced my skills through YouTube tutorials. I would buy materials such as craft papers, glue, pens and kitenges and be creative with items I had lying around like buttons, shattered glass and thread among other things,” the young entrepreneur says.
“With these, I would make birthday cards and success cards and show them to my friends who loved and bought them. This encouraged me to keep making the cards.”
For capital, she used the pocket money that her father had given her while her sister bought the other products that were needed.
From the profits she got from her first sale, in addition to Sh25,000 loan she received from a friend, she bought a printing machine to make the cards and repaid the loan from the second sale of the cards.
Currently, she supplies the cards to supermarkets across Eldoret but still takes orders. They retail at between Sh200 to Sh400 each depending on the type of the card and size.
Besides making and designing cards, Ms Shekinah is also a music teacher at Kigame Music Academy in Eldoret.
“For anyone out there who would like to start a business, I would say this: It is not easy, but it is possible. I started with no capital and here I am, growing daily,” She says.
In future, she aspires to be a household name and the go-to person for handmade cards in Kenya.