From a modest start, Embu-based décor shop is now a success story

Sety’s Decor & Gifts Shop

Setian Ndwiga, founder of Sety’s Decor & Gifts Shop in Embu County.

Photo credit: Pool

If there aren't enough noteworthy moments from an event, did it truly happen? Aesthetics are now more crucial than ever in event design, thanks to the way social media has transformed and enhanced everything from tablescapes to overall décor in recent years.

The significance of details in event design is one aspect that will never alter, despite the passing of trends.

Setian Ndwiga’s love for beautiful places always made her admire decorated spaces. But she never thought that she would be the one providing those services someday.

In 2020, she founded Sety's Decor & Gifts Shop in Embu County by sheer happenstance. At the start of the pandemic, she had just closed her mitumba business because their suppliers could no longer supply new merchandise, and customers were hesitant to purchase used clothing at that time.

She needed to figure out the way forward as she was unemployed and her son's birthday was coming up.

"Since I could not afford to throw him a party, I chose to give him a small gesture as a low-key way to celebrate. I went shopping in Embu town for reasonably priced party items, primarily balloons,” she says. "I was shocked to learn that there were no party supplies in the supermarkets or any other kid-related stores. So I decided to shop online and found lots of options from Nairobi."

While she was online-shopping, Ndwiga,34, got the bright idea to buy some additional items to sell to other people in Embu. She decided to give it a go despite the low-profit margins, having no inkling that it would be the start of a successful career.


"I started with Sh2, 000 from my savings, which I had been earning from a side gig for a few months. I did not think twice about using all the money to buy my first stock when I was able to find a wholesaler for party supplies,” she says, adding that she also bought foil number balloons and added a little extra money, which she had to borrow from Mshwari, to cover the parcel fees from Nairobi to Embu.

When Ndwiga first opened her company, she mainly sold disposable party supplies, including hats, cups, plates, foil number balloons, and regular balloons. However, after a while, she looked into entering the service sector, which involves setting up decor for events.

Setian Ndwiga

Setian Ndwiga, founder of Sety's Decor & Gifts Shop in Embu County. The company that provides gift services.

Photo credit: Pool

“In three years, the company has grown steadily. I now collaborate on a casual basis with my crew. Additionally, I have been able to purchase décor items like carpets, backdrops for photo booths, tablecloths, seat coverings, and draping materials for tents, among many other things," she adds.

It would seem obvious that entire industries exist around décor and that the general public engages in this kind of activity since we all have a natural desire to make the occasion seem amazing. The aesthetic appeal of décor is not the only thing that allays inner anxieties about appearances.

Additionally, decoration serves as a means of expressing how uniqueness is both an inherent element of who we are and something external to us. “Decorations are crucial since they create the mood for the celebration. They provide them with the appropriate appearance for the occasion and draw attention to the ceremony and setting. These are personal choices, so each individual can determine the style and caliber of the décor," she explains.

Sety's Decor & Gifts Shop provides gift services, such as gift baskets and fresh flower arrangements, to commemorate important occasions in addition to decor services for all kinds of events.

"I started by doing retail sales of party goods. A client once bought some balloons and other party materials, but she said she was too busy to set them up for herself,” she says, adding that she agreed to do it for her as a discount because she had some free time on her hands. She then took pictures of the setup and shared them on her social media page to promote her products and services.

Ndwiga notes that she was amazed by how well the setup turned out and that she soon started receiving requests for the same. She came up with a simple package of decorations for kids' birthday celebrations, and this quickly spread to other occasions including baptisms, graduations, and baby showers.

"My main driving force is growth. I credit my business for helping me grow, both personally and as an entrepreneur. The very thought of becoming bigger and better inspires me to strive for excellence. My clients push me to reach new heights and never stop believing in myself, which is another major source of motivation for me,” she says.

To date, she has worked with over 2,000 clients from individuals, groups, and corporations to decorate their events. She claims that since children get to select the theme and photo booth they want, they are also her clients when it comes to birthday celebrations.

Sety's Decor & Gifts Shop provides four services, starting with a setup-inclusive comprehensive package for an event. This includes setting up the tents, seats, tables, photo booths, portable restrooms, and décor.

“I also offer decor services only. This is in a situation where the client already has supplies like the tents and chairs and they only need the dressing. We also do gift services. I have flower bouquets and gift hampers that are tailored to fit the client's budget and needs. Delivery services for the gift hampers, where we do surprise deliveries to offices, hospitals, and homes, is also in our portfolio,” she says.

Ndwiga had no big plans when she first started; for her, it was more of a side gig as she looked for bigger chances. Yet over time, she came to see that there was a huge need and a ready market for the services she was providing. Extensive research gave her more insight into the décor world.

Less expensive

“Since balloons are less expensive to buy, I mostly dealt with them because I did not have any resources at the time. I spent a lot of time learning about balloon artwork, and this eventually turned into my specialty—something that the majority of Embu-based service providers did not offer at the time,” she says, and adds that this helped her stand out from the competition and quickly, word that Embu had someone who catered specifically to balloon decor setups.

Clients began to notice her work and enthusiasm for what she did. She accepted the challenge to grow after receiving requests to provide additional options than only balloon photo booths.

When she started, her biggest challenge was capital and cash flow, hence was unable to expand as quickly as she had wished, forcing her to be patient to grow her savings.

“Logistics was and still is a challenge whenever I get clients outside my town and I have supplies that need transportation. Hiring and maintenance of staff that are reliable, efficient, effective, and trustworthy is not a walk in the park. It takes a lot of time, work, and resources,” she says.

 Currently, she has a team of three employees on a casual basis, but she is looking forward to more growth where she will be able to hire staff permanently so as to improve their execution and effectiveness.

She charges between Sh5,000 and Sh300,000, although this is not her upper limit.

Her rates are determined by the supplies her clients require; everything is customised to fit their wants and preferences—whether they are minimalist or maximalist.

"Décor services might cost millions. Everything is dependent upon your client's requirements and specifications. This is a massive industry that is constantly changing. Accordingly, the pricing will fluctuate and alter based on what's new in the market,” Ndwiga explains.

In the near future, she hopes to serve as a "one-stop-shop" for event planning needs.