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Artist who dared to dream

Discipline and a strong willpower to improve his economic status are the reasons Samuel Njiru is smiling today.

He is the owner of Ndoto Mtaani Designs, a business that deals in handmade jewellery, T-shirt labelling, soapstone sculpture and paintings.

The business is located on the outskirts of Kibera and Mr Njiru admits the entrepreneurial journey has not been easy.

Before opening the shop a year ago, he had attempted other activities including washing cars, selling charcoal and touting.

Met many people

“As a tout, I endured tough life and harassment from the police and county askaris. I spent most of my little income on bail or paying my way out of cells. It reached a point where I could take it no more,” said the 30-year-olld.

After soul searching, Mr Njiru took the bold decision of using the only Sh500 in his possession at the time to purchase his first stock which included various necklace designs.

“I bought these from hawkers in the City centre and sold them in my neighbourhood. My friends laughed at me thinking I had gone crazy but I remained focused,” he said.

In a year, he had saved enough to buy more stock and establish a physical location for his business.

“I delight in my humble beginnings because as a necklace hawker, I met a lot of people from whom I learnt many things about art,” said Mr Njiru.

The lessons were instrumental in the designs he makes today.

Lazy youngsters

He switched from trading readymade jewellery and began making his own using bamboo, soft wood, glass beads and the popular ‘kitenge’ cloth.

While expressing a passion for art, Mr Njiru says he never knew he had such talent until he made a piece.

He spends most of his day piercing together the beads he buys from Kariokor Market and other shops, taking orders and attending to customers.

He says his main challenge is lack of an assistant at the shop to help in the daily running of the business.

Getting raw materials from the market has also not been easy.

“Most young people are not patient to stick around since they want quick cash. Doing all these jobs takes a heavy toll on me at times such that my business Facebook account stays for ages without being updated,” he says.

Though Mr Njiru did not complete secondary education at Kitengela Vineyard High School due to lack of fees, he says he treasures education.

“I never let my little education determine my future,” he said, adding that young people should stop being lazy and explore their hidden talents.