FROM A HOBBY TO A BRAND

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Young entrepreneur  establishes a fast growing business in his passionate field – photography

Due to its practical nature, the creative arts field  offers  many  job  opportunities to  talented individuals – mainly the youth. By and large, this has assisted the government  in  addressing the big challenge of unemployment facing young graduates from tertiary institutions and universities in our country.  Peter Gichuki is a good example.  Highly talented, ambitious and meticulous,  the young entrepreneur ( aged   twenty seven years )     is the chief executive officer and founder of BlackGold Photography and Arts production.  The fast growing  small and medium enterprise ( SME) is located in Nairobi’s  upmarket Karen suburb. The location is ideal for the  business since its  residents form a big proportion  of  its  target market.  “ Photography is a form of art that one keeps on perfecting,” says Gichuki. “ A photographer or artist who tells people   that he has reached  the peak of his career  completely  misses  the mark ,” he adds.

Getting started

Gichuki’s thriving business grew from a hobby.  During  his teenage, he loved photographing  his friends in church and school.  He was also the official family photographer. “ I always carried a camera during family outings in order to capture the memorable moments,” he says.  After his high school studies, Gichuki  joined Shang Tao Media Art College  in Nairobi where he honed his skills in  photography.   Since his  goal was to become an entrepreneur, he joined an advertising agency under Churchill Oele as an intern when he graduated from college. “ I worked as Oele’s  production  assistant and that opportunity enabled me to sharpen my photography skills thoroughly,” Gichuki says adding that he also  learnt important skills on  how to run a business from Oele. One of the  agency’s  specialities was production of documentaries.

Peter Gichuki receiving the best upcoming photographer award in 2017.

What is in a name?

Strong brands  begin their journeys  by coming up with captivating and memorable  names. “ I coined this name from a silhouette captured in one of my photos,” he says.  “ It is a beautiful photo of the sun setting in the  tropics,” he adds. The business specializes in commercial  photography,  portraits,  production  of  documentaries and sale of fashionable  outfits.   “ Our work is defined by simplicity, editorial finesse, honesty and neatness, “  he says.   “ We always strive to capture memorable images,” he adds.

After serving as an assistant at the advertising agency for some time, Gichuki developed a burning  urge to start his own business. He therefore requested his parents to purchase the first tool of trade – a camera. They did not disappoint him. Since his aunt was working in the diaspora, the parents liaised with her so that she could purchase a high quality camera at a competitive price.  Seven months down the line after making that request, his  aunt shipped a Canon 70D to Kenya.  After receiving  the camera, Gichuki quit his job as a production assistant.

In order to win the first customers for his young business, Gichuki would photograph his friends and then post the work on Instagram.  “ I would request my friends to tag me and gradually, I gained popularity,” he says.  He would carry the camera while attending  family and church events. “ The friends in my church were in particular very supportive ,” he says adding  that  they would share his  work very  widely on various social media platforms. 

Peter Gichuki’s most memorable photo.

Breakthrough

 In 2017, a major event was held in the country. Canon Central and North Africa ( CCNA) partnered with the Kenya Fashion Awards in hosting a fashion photography  event and workshop.  It targeted students, upcoming as well as  established photographers in Kenya.  During the gala event, Gichuki clinched the best upcoming  photographer  award, which came with a Canon 700 D camera. The wide coverage of this event by the media helped Gichuki to gain a lot of visibility.  It also made him to gain more confidence as a commercial photographer.

The young entrepreneur says that his   greatest achievement was in 2021 when he  took a photo of his  late grandfather.  “ That photo keeps the fond  memories  of  our  grandfather alive and it occupies a prominent place in our family’s living room,” says  Gichuki.

Overcoming

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted. Occasionally,  one may score major victories, but it is equally true  that he or she may experience some  disappointments.  “ As an entrepreneur I would say that if you have never failed, then you have never tried anything new,” says Gichuki.

Some of the challenges he has faced include : keeping proper accounts books, financial management and conducting marketing surveys.  As a rule of thumb, given that customers are the mainstay of business, he strives to meet their expectations.  “ I always tell my fellow young entrepreneurs that  it is advisable to go an extra  mile in order to   deliver beyond their customers’ expectations,” he avers.

In a bid to overcome challenges in the course of his entrepreneurship journey, Gichuki engages mentors, attends business and financial management forums , besides reading or watching online content related to his business.

His vision is to grow his business so that it can employ  many young people – at least fifteen.  He is also aspiring to position it as a leading production house that offers solutions to advertisement  firms.  He would  also wish to partner with leading  international fashion magazines, for instance Vogue.

BlackGold Photography and Arts production studio located at Karen.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

Gichuki  advises  young entrepreneurs who want to venture into the photography business  to have a lot of patience.  If they get an opportunity, they can also be enrolled in photography and business schools, or take a part time course in marketing. “ If you are a startup, it  is also important to network with people who have already successfully  ventured into this business so that you  can be mentored,” he advises.  

In the same breath, he advises young entrepreneurs not to be afraid of taking calculated risks and to plough back their profits into the businesses so that they can experience growth.

Further, he says that venturing into a business that one is passionate about enhances his or her chances of succeeding. Being a strong Christian, he believes in divine providence as a critical pillar for those who are keen on succeeding in business.

Finally, he points out that making money should not be the only motivation for one to venture into business.  “ As an entrepreneur,   one should be willing and able to offer a product or service that meets the needs of his or her target market,” Gichuki says adding that it is  after meeting such needs that one is able to generate money.  Those who are able to curve a market niche by offering competitive and acceptable products according to Gichuki  build solid brands.

The other face of Peter Gichuki

Marital status – Single

Hobbies – Watching football, hiking and painting

Favourite food Chapati, beef stew and a glass of passion juice

Dream car – a Ford Ranger double cab or a Porche 911

Dairy  : Wakes  up at 5:40 am, prays  in order to  align his  thoughts for day, then reports  to work at 7.00 am.

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