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Woman finds joy in counting fashion cash

The fashion industry has grown in leaps and bounds. Society is today warming up to fashion and design as a respectable career.

What’s even better is that fashion and design has turned a lot of youths into employers with serious businesses to run.

Nkatha Karauri, the owner of Ihsani Culture House, is one of these. Her dalliance with fashion began as a hobby when she was a child, but it was not until she completed her degree in statistics from the University of Toronto that she decided to take fashion seriously.

“When I came back home in 2005, I started looking for a job in the field of statistics, but it was very difficult to find one. For you to earn good money in this field, you have to have a masters degree. As I looked for a job, I started sketching and interning at a local fashion house – Dawn of Creation,” said the 33-year-old.

The owner of the fashion house loved Nkatha’s sketches so much that she started paying her.

“We then started making handbags using hessian, which was a huge success,” she said.

Nkatha went on to pursue a master’s in statistics from the University of Nairobi which she completed in 2008. She was back to tarmacking, this time with renewed strength.

“I hoped for a good job, but it wasn’t forthcoming. So I went back to my hobby – fashion. I continued making handbags, this time from leather and canvas. Finally, I got a job at Kemri as a data coordinator,” she said.

Nkatha thought that with a stable job, she would finally feel settled. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The job was very taxing and time consuming. She barely had any time for herself, let alone time for her hobby. The contract ended nine months later, leaving Nkatha to do what she loved.

“I wanted to work for myself. So I started a consultancy in research as my main job and fashion as a side hustle (credit sarah). But how wrong I was. I found myself doing more fashion and fewer consultancies,” she recalled.

She immersed herself fully into fashion in 2010 and started small by working from home. Sometimes, when the orders were many, she would outsource tailors from Kibera’s Makina market.

She started by making dresses, shirts, skirts and other items for friends, family and a few clients until she had her lucky break in August 2010.

“I got a chance to showcase my first line at the Dress Up Kenya Fashion show in August 2010, and in October, I participated in the Festival for African Fashion and Arts, which was a good start for me,” she said.

In November last year, Nkatha opened her workshop in Ngara, and has employed one tailor.