Shattering stereotypes: Meet the stone-crushing TikToker – Exclusive
Amidst the relentless roar of stone-crushing machinery in a bustling quarry in Kieni, Nyeri County, a 22-year-old woman named Shiku Kariuki stands as a symbol of unwavering determination and hope.
While onlookers may see her as a young woman toiling under the unforgiving sun, Shiku’s dreams transcend the dust clouds and splintered rocks surrounding her.
She isn’t just crushing stones; she’s shattering stereotypes, defying expectations, and fueling her dream of becoming a teacher against all odds.
Nairobi News recently had the privilege of catching up with Ms Kariuki, a TikTok sensation with 42,900 followers, all eager to witness her journey from manual stone-crushing to fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher.
Shiku’s remarkable story is an inspiration to many who face adversity with courage and determination.
Her journey into stone crushing began in 2016 after completing Class 8. She worked in quarries, manually crushing stones to save money for her school fees.
“We had gone for a hustle somewhere but we were paid very little money, Sh 150, and I really wanted to save money for my school fees. I saw that this would not be enough. So I began working in quarries, manually crushing stones and I saved some money to join form one in secondary school. I joined late, like one week to midterm and I managed to complete my secondary school education. I then joined college where I studied plumbing,” Ms Kariuki told Nairobi News.
With determination and hard work, she managed to complete her secondary education despite joining late.
Although her career path deviated from her aspiration to become a teacher, Shiku remains optimistic about her ultimate goal.
In the meantime, she combines her stone-crushing work with TikTok, a platform that has brought her closer to her dreams.
“I used to see people selling clothes and marketing shoes on TikTok, and I said, ‘One day, I will market my stone-crushing business.’ I posted a video, and it trended. From there, I began getting customers from TikTok. Most of these TikTok customers do not bargain, so when I tell them the price, they simply buy it, unlike local clients,” Shiku explained.
Her days, spent under the scorching sun, involve manual stone crushing, a physically demanding and challenging endeavor.
She crushes stones from 6 am to 7 pm, with each stone sold for Sh10.
“Crushed stones are measured in 20 liter buckets. In a day, I can crush up to 50 buckets and sell one bucket for Sh 10. On TikTok, I load stones onto a lorry and sell it for Sh 4,000 but locally, clients want at Sh 3,500 and since I don’t have money, I end up just selling the stones at their bargained prices,” explained Ms Kariuku.
TikTok has not only expanded her business reach but also helped raise funds for her livelihood and other ventures.
TikTok followers have supported Shiku by buying her gloves, masks, and other essentials for her stone-crushing work.
She has diversified her income sources, selling organic eggs, engaging in land sales as a brand influencer, and venturing into farming.
Through her TikTok community, she managed to raise funds for a water pump and other farming necessities.
“My TikTok followers really helped me. They really held me down. They even started this chicken rearing project for me. Someone bought me chicks, another person bought for me chicken feed. The money I got, I bought 10 chicken and recently, I bought eight more cocks. I told my followers I now wanted to go into farming and my TikTok friends bought me a water pump. They have really supported me. We managed to raise Sh 30,400 for the machine. I bought it, seeds, fertilizer and some pipes. I now farm potatoes, maize, French beans and peas,” revealed Ms Kariuki.
Furthermore, she has become an influencer for a land-selling company and is gradually expanding her presence in the male-dominated industry of stone crushing.
“Work is work, so let me hustle and see how it turns out. People often encourage me, and this gives me the motivation to keep working hard. To all the women who find themselves in male-dominated industries, work hard and smart. There is no sector that is 100% great, but as long as you love your job, you will be fine,” Shiku Kariuki passionately concludes.
In the heart of a quarry, Shiku’s resilience echoes far beyond the clattering stones. She is a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of determination and dreams in the face of adversity.