By Catherine Kuria
The infamous phrase “you should know people” is often thrown around. People have this mindset that without connections in high places, you cannot succeed. But I’m of the notion that, hard work is the key to opening all those doors of success. When it comes to entrepreneurship, having a knack for the business you decide to venture into is very important. Having connections is important I agree, but what good are those connections if you are not committed to what you do?
She hails from Meru county, the land of a rich cultural heritage and fertile soils. This ‘she’ is none other than 25-year-old Purity Nyawira alias Pouchie. Due to financial challenges, she was not able to further her education beyond her O level. Pouchie decided to relocate to Nairobi in search of greener pastures but life was not all flowery, something she would later come to find out. She tried working as a tout in the city but eventually quit to try her hands on business. She ventured into selling clothes then hawking shoes, ice cream, juice and caps but all these businesses went down the drain. However, failure did not deter this young spirit from trying again and again.
“I had tried my hands on every possible hustle I could find in the city. I failed numerous times but never at once, did I contemplate quitting or giving up. I had to keep trying, for both my family and myself,” she says. About a year and a half ago, she met with a friend who pitched to her the idea of making flower vases from glass. Her interest piqued and she decided to give it a shot with the help of the friend who showed her the ropes of the business. Her starting capital was Kshs 300 which she invested in purchasing cheap raw materials. “It’s so surreal that I have been able to grow to where I am today in such a short period of time. My business is doing so well and I still can’t fathom how I have managed to get this far,” she happily expresses.
She crafts and sells flower vases handmade by her from scratch. She makes them from bottles, pompom flowers and a bit of fibre. Then, she adds a little bit of creativity to make every flower vase unique in its own make. Pouchie notes: “It is cheaper and way more profitable than other ventures I had tried out. My business is about creativity and art. I am passionate about arts and therefore I do what I love for a living.”
Secret behind her growth
They say that there is no secret to success; you have to put in a lot of work and time. Pouchie took her time to study the ins and outs of the market. She set up her business right next to Garden City Mall because of the traffic of people who visit the mall every day. She hilariously says that every day is Christmas because the mall is always flocking with people. She makes her work attractive and easy on the eye using beautiful and bright colours. This is what attracts potential customers to her business.
Her pricing is also pocket friendly which has been a huge plus for the business. A single vase with a single flower goes for Kshs 1200 and with double flowers goes for Kshs 1500. She has a strong work ethic and never fails to show up to work. “Being self employed does not give me the right to play around with my work, I am faithful to my business because my past struggles keep me grounded,” she says adding that customers will never complain that they came and missed her because she is always at her business which she treats like a baby.
She also did a lot of research online on customer experience to better her services to clients. This has earned her a lot of referrals from happy clients and she even gets large orders to deliver her products. She plans on opening a curio shop in the next one year. She would love to collaborate with her friends who also sell art in setting up a huge curio shop where they can incorporate all their pieces together.
Her focus is not solely on her financial growth but on her intellectual growth as well. She decided to go back to school and is currently pursuing a degree in human resource management at Kenyatta University.
Her biggest challenge is dealing with the city council askaris who are constantly harassing business people around the area. “The askaris constantly troll us. They arrest business people and carry their merchandise and you have to part with some money if you want to be set free. The worst case scenario is where you are taken to court and fined heavily,” she notes. Her products are artistic in nature and some customers tend to undervalue them while trying to get a discount. Some go as far as insinuating that since the vases are made from glass, they should be cheap. However, this has not deterred her from forging ahead. She has kept a cool head and learnt how to deal with difficult customers.
Pouchie encourages young people to strive on unlocking their potential. She gives a quote from Richard Branson to that end: “I treat life like one long university education, where I can learn more every day. You can too!” She further says that taking the risk to do something that you care about can be fulfilling. There is no doubt that running a business takes a lot of time. The only way to be satisfied in your life is to be engaged in the work that you truly believe in.
We never know the outcome of our efforts unless we actually perform a task. “I took the risk so that I wouldn’t regret in the future. I’d rather try and fail than fail to try at all and live with regrets,” she expounds. Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right. Believe that you can succeed, and you’ll find ways through different obstacles. If you don’t, you’ll just find excuses. She concludes by saying: “Members of the society need to support and promote the youth. If you see young people indulging in a certain hustle, go and promote them by buying what they are selling. Even the tiniest bit of support can mean the world to somebody. Give them something to look forward to every morning.”