27 year-old Susan ‘Malaika’ Karingi is a mom with the desire to grow her business into a big name in the fashion industry. I had a chat with her about her entrepreneurial journey and how she’s making her dream come true, as she balances work with raising her son.
MT: Tell us about your business
SMK: I design and sell jewelry, under the outfit ‘Malaika Jewelry Box’. My pieces include earrings, necklaces, bracelets and keyholders.
I have also recently began selling customized denim school bags, on which are embroidered a child’s name. Children love seeing their names written on their bags, and of course, moms are happy when their children are happy. So I am doing this alongside the jewelry pieces.
MT: Why did you get into business?
SMK: I studied accounting at the African Nazarene University and after doing my internship at an audit firm, I knew without doubt that employment was not my thing. I grew up with parents who were in business and I used to help them out a lot. My internship consisted of boring, repetitive tasks that made me sure I wanted to get into my own business.
MT: Did you do any other business before Malaika Jewellery Box?
SMK: Yes I did. After graduation, I set up a carwash business along Ngong Road in Nairobi. But it did not do well as the expenses were more than I had anticipated. So I closed it.
In 2010, I decided to get into the jewelry business because I had always loved beautiful adornments. I decided to make them myself. However, I was faced with my first challenge. After approaching some friends who were in the business to teach me the ropes and get some few insights, I was shocked because I realized that people are very mean with information. So I ended up teaching myself how to do it, and figuring out where to buy the tools and the raw materials for myself. It was rough start, but I was able to overcome it and move on.
MT: What is your vision for your business?
SMK: I hope to expand it to become a renowned business. I am beginning to make brooches and hairclips. I am also developing a men’s line because I’ve been getting a lot of requests from men who want neck pieces and bracelets.
While I had initially started with jewelry, I have now started making the school bags, and I’m working on diaper bags as I have gotten requests for these too.
I also hope to sell good shoes and clothes for boys. I have noticed that the market is flooded with girls’ clothing, but for boys –they are few and far between and when available, they are way too expensive. I hope to fill this gap.
MT: What have been the highs in your business?
SMK: The best parts have been meeting different people, and the exposure the business has given me. I don’t have a shop, but depend on online sales. I also sell during exhibitions and car boot sales. Making custom-made jewelry pieces for clients and seeing them satisfied has definitely been rewarding.
MT: What have been the lows in your business?
Getting capital for the business was an issue, as I had just closed down the car wash business and didn’t have that much money. But I worked with what I had and bought a few tools and beads, and began with that. Marketing and advertizing continue to be a big challenge as these require money.
Other times I have had clients cancel orders at the last minute. Some clients have also delayed on payments, which affects the cash flow of the business.
MT: You are a single mom to a four-year old boy. Share with me your parenting experiences.
SMK: To be honest, one of the reasons why I knew that I wanted to get into self-employment was because of my son. With my own business, I manage my own time and meet my own deadlines, and this flexibility ensures that I spend enough time with him.
I enjoy spending time with my son Ryan and I love teaching him different stuff. I have taught him how to make paper airplanes, I’ve taught him to climb trees and I’ve also taught him how to ride a bike!
MT: How are you able to work from the house while your son is there with you?
SMK: It’s actually not that hard. When I’m making my jewelry pieces, he helps me out by picking up the fallen beads, or helping me string the beads. These are usually moments I treasure because we are able to share jokes and stories together.
MT: What pieces of advice will you give your son as he grows up?
SMK: I will teach him to respect people, and I will do all that I can to ensure that he grows up to be a responsible man. I will support him fully as he follows his dream.
Malaika’s Jewelry Box can be found here.
Awesome stuff. Susan You are going places. Your son is your silent business partner. Just watch him closely.
Men we are waiting though…
GOD BLESS YOU.
Well, this might be a road less travelled, but you going far and many more will follow by example.
Good stuff am very proud of what Susan has achieved. God bless!!!
WELL DONE MUM.YOUR WORK IS EXCELLENT.KEEP IT UP!MAY THE LORD BLS THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS.READ MK:11:24 & ISAIAH 41Vs10-11
JUST APPLY MUM’S SIX DEES OF SUCCESS.DO NOT LOSE YOUR FOCUS OR LISTEN TO DISCOURAGEMENTS.
I WILL GIVE YOU ALL MY BLESSINGS & SUPPORT.I LAV YOU