Atesh Graphics is a household name in Nakuru town when it comes to photography and video production.
The studio has managed to cut a niche for itself in this sector, becoming one of the sought after providers of photo and video production, branding, printing and graphic design in the town and its environs.
From individual and family shoots to live streaming of social and corporate events, the business describes itself as a one-stop shop for those seeking to keep a record of important memories such as weddings and graduations.
The enterprise is a product of passion, patience and determination. What began as a small photocopy and printing shop serving traders at Nakuru’s Wakulima Market 10 years ago has grown into a popular fully-fledged production company serving clients across the county and beyond.
The proprietor, Anthony Atenga, explains that the business idea came about back in 2004 when he developed an interest in computer studies. He was in high school then, and very fascinated with graphic design such that he would practice anytime he got access to a computer desktop. While in Form Three at the Kapenguria Boys High School, Atenga was already cashing in from the little skill he had, designing and printing love letters for his schoolmates.
“I would charge Sh50 for a letter which I would design using a school computer and copy it on a floppy disk. I would then sneak out of school to print it. Some of the teachers would also pay me to typeset their notes,” says Atenga.
After completing high school, rather than join college to study teaching, like his parents wanted him to, he enrolled himself in a college in Nakuru to study a diploma in Information Technology.
“A friend of mine offered me a job at his cyber café where I would work whenever I did not have lessons. He also helped me join the college since he had connections with the owner,” he said.
After graduating from college, he got a job in a branding enterprise in Nakuru town where he worked for three months before being laid off after the business downsized.
From the Sh20, 000 he was given as two months’ salary arrears, he decided to sublet a small room near the busy Wakulima Market to offer photocopy services after buying a second hand desktop and photocopier.
He named his small shop Atesh Graphics - the name is derived from his nickname, ‘Atesh’.First breakthrough “Majority of those that visited my shop came to photocopy their Identity cards, and to supplement the money I made from this, I would copy songs to memory cards at a fee. Later, I decided to seek clients in colleges, I would typeset their assignments as well as projects,” he says.
His first breakthrough came in 2012 when he got a job to print cards for a politician who was aspiring for a seat in the county. He designed the cards and sought printing elsewhere. From this tender, he managed to get enough capital to expand his space.
He also bought new equipment, enabling him to take on more jobs and maximise his profits.In the run up to the 2013 General Election, more politicians were referred to his shop, and with each job, he up scaled his services. The idea to set up a photo and video studio came later in 2014 when he was cheated out of a deal by a competitor.
“We had an agreement with a person who ran a photo studio in a nearby shop that I would always refer my clients to his studio for a photo, but I would be the one to do the graphic design and printing part. One day I sent my client, who, besides business cards, wanted his photo taken, to his studio, but he never returned. I only came to learn later that they had convinced him to design and print his cards at their shop after they took his photo,” he says.
He learnt photo and video editing skills and went ahead to employ four people, including his wife Linet Kerubo, whom he trained so that she could help him run the business.
In the advent of Covid-19 pandemic, Atenga was forced to be creative to deal with the economic challenges brought about by the lockdown measures put into place.
The idea to start livestreaming services proved to be a genius one as it was quickly embraced by the clients. “I first began by recording church sermons and posting them on YouTube before the idea to livestream came about. Initially, I used mobile phones, but bought the required equipment when the business flourished,” he says.
During this period Atenga managed to expand his business further and even moved to a bigger office at Shawmut Plaza in Nakuru town. Currently, the studio, which has 10 employees, makes between Sh150, 000 to Sh350, 000 on any given month.
His main clients include those doing weddings, burials, graduations, as well as corporate events. The entrepreneur attributes the success of his company to the quality of his services, honesty and innovative attitude. Atenga has won a number of awards for his work in this sector, including being feted in the 2018 Xtreem Awards as the best graphic designer of the year.
This year, he was named Mediapreneur of the year in the 2022 Founder of The Year Award (FOYA).
Buoyed by these wins, Atenga plans to start mentoring and training youth interested in venturing into his field of work.