“On this day I delivered tops to a lady along State House road.She had seen them on my Shop’s (Collection D’Elegance) Facebook page.
I was excited because I had just started out.Guess what,when she saw them,she sneered and said they looked cheap.Never took any.I was so discouraged that I wanted to quit that very day.”,She remembers
We visited her busy shop along Moi Avenue.It was so busy that we had to cut the interview short and postponed it only to come another day to finish it up.
For her to own a shop at the heart of Nairobi town is no mean fit especially because she started with only 2000 bob as capital back in 2013.
Second hand clothes are looked down upon,people will not take your seriously.Sometimes the “veterans” in the market are so secretive about where they source their bails.
Competition is cut throat.But at a young age she was introduced to business by the mom and she knew she was cut out for it.”learnt from the best through apprenticeship”
And she tried quite a number of businesses before she settled on Mitumba clothes.”I did farming,I sold China sourced household items,opened a graphics design services shop,but still clothes were my thing”,She tells us.
Not so long ago she was born in a family of three.Being the eldest,she learnt to be ambitious and to act fast.”First born are hustlers”,she says.
Her mother was a tailor.She didn’t see a point in closing her Kibanda when going to other towns to sell on market days.
She would leave Grace to stand in for her.Her fondest memory of bargaining,selling and persuading customers were made there.
In High school,she would go with bikers and tops.She sold to her fellow students and that’s how she made her pocket money.
As a bright student,after high school she went to Germany to pursue higher education.She is seasoned graphic designer but “IT was not her thing”.She stayed abroad for 8 years but was sure that she wanted To go back home.
Who leaves Europe to come and sell Mitumba clothing?Grace is the answer.Initially her parents were not as supportive.But she wanted her freedom as much as she wanted to work for flexible hours.
Sometimes last years she would take women to Gikomba Market and take them around and show them how to shop and where.She had learnt the ropes….
“The challenges I went through made me feel like helping women who are starting out.I did not know that a bail has first camera,second camera and third camera.The costing is different for each and that is where most starters go wrong”,says Grace
After leaving Europe around 2011 I was transitioning back home.My husband and I were expecting a baby in 2013 and I participated in the Baby Banda competition.
Pregnant ladies were admiring my maternity tops and soon I would sell to them.I started with 2,000 bob and since then I never looked back despite challenges.
When I got my baby people would admire how he had cute outfits and so they started asking me for baby clothes.By then I didn’t have a shop and our family car boot was my duka.
“I believe in starting small”,she says.Steadily she would register her business and the internet helped a big deal.I would get orders online and from word of mouth and referrals.
When she started,she sold clothes in pieces but now she sells bails as well.I supply across Kenya and work with riders to deliver to different courier services who in return deliver to customers.
For Grace running the shop is actually empowerment.”Women should get out of the house and hustle.No amount is too small to start off”,she says.She helps women with market tips as well because she learnt the hard way when she begun.
The internet being a powerful tool,she started a Facebook page called “Mitumba Chap Chap” a place where vendors and buyers are under one roof.With over 50,000 members,the group offers a platform for trade.
The wife and mother of two is passionate about economic empowerment of women.She believes that cases of violence could be lower if women were also engaging in income generating activities.
“Mitumba business is sexy and has good returns”,she concludes.
Grace is among thousands of well educated and youthful women who are choosing to be in the blue collar jobs that were otherwise looked down upon a few years back.
She is based on Moi Avenue, Bluebells exhibition next to sonford opposite the bazaar shop no 24 and her contacts are 0722861191/0739477295
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