Valerie Rogers Muigai is a 34 year-old mother of three; daughter Natalie 6 years, Nathan 3, and baby Joel who is 7 months. She and her husband Muigai have been married for eight years and are currently raising their children in Uganda.
Valerie is employed and also manages a side hustle – Kijani Cloth Diapers which manufactures baby diapers. I had a chat with her about her life as a mother and as an entrepreneur who is also employed –and how she strikes that balance.
Maryanne: Tell us a little about yourself
VRM: I am the middle child of three girls, and I grew up in New Jersey in the US. I moved to Nairobi when I was 24 years-old for graduate school, and I met my husband while living in Nairobi. We got married in Kenya and since our wedding, we have lived in three different countries (Tanzania, US, and Uganda where we have been for the last 3 years). Although being in an intercultural marriage can have its challenges, we work hard to create our own family culture with the best things from each of our cultures and try to teach our children to be proud of both of their cultures.
Maryanne: Did your life change after you became a mum? If yes, how?
VRM: Yes, it did. For me, I have always loved children and ever since I was young I looked forward to becoming a mother. Becoming a mum was a transformational experience for me. Although children can definitely be stressful at times, I love the day to day interactions and responsibilities of caring for babies and young children. I found my priorities shifted – whereas I had a lot of career ambition before becoming a mum, my main priority after I had children was to find a job that would allow me the flexibility to spend a lot of time with my children.
Watch the video below that shows how Valerie makes the Kijani cloth diapers.
Maryanne: You run Kijani as a side hustle. How does employment and entrepreneurship work for you?
VRM: I am grateful to have a very flexible part time job that I really enjoy. My job allows me to spend a lot of time with my children and run Kijani as a side business.
Maryanne: What advice would you like to give women thinking of starting a business?
VRM: I would suggest thinking of skills or knowledge that you already have and seeing how you can use those to earn some money. Also, look for gaps in the market that you may be able to fill. For me, we used cloth diapers with all of my children and I loved them. When we moved to Uganda, I started making some for friends as baby gifts because I realized there was no place to buy them in Uganda. When their friends saw them, they started ordering some and that is how Kijani was started.
Other advice I would give is to start small and to start as a side business if possible, or at least make sure you have some money saved up for the first several months. There are always a lot of expenses involved in starting a business and it can take a while before it starts to make money. Starting small also allows you to make mistakes, learn from them, and correct your course without having these mistakes destroy your business.
Valerie can be reached through her website www.kijanionline.com
Facebook: Kijani Baby -Uganda / East Africa
Tel: (+256) 0772 206 018
Read more stories of Kenyan mums who run their own business outfits here.