What you need to know:
- During visits to Gikomba Market with her mother, one thing always caught Parky’s attention; the good-looking furniture on display that she always admired.
- After four years of learning and researching, she finally decided to venture into the business.
- She notes that this kind of business is quite competitive and is full of counterfeit products.
Growing up, Parky Kamau always accompanied her mother to Gikomba Market where she sourced stock for her used clothes business.
This was mainly during the school holidays to enable her raise fees for her education.
One thing always caught Parky’s attention; the good-looking furniture on display that she always admired.
“I always got fascinated by the various fabrics and colours and I started researching on how I can get into the business,” said Ms Kamau.
Although she went further and enrolled for a course in International Relations, she decided to follow her passion after school.
“I didn't know how to start so I started with a second-hand clothes business before I could afford to buy fabrics to make pillows,” she said.
After four years of learning and researching, she finally decided to venture into the business.
“As I kept going to the fabric market, I discovered a huge wood market and took hours asking different sellers what type of wood it was and how it was used. I did a lot of research over several months and slowly fell in love with wood and fabrics mostly kitenge,” she told SME. This was followed by sketching designs and creating prototypes to see what would go well with her vision.
Her entry into the business did not happen overnight as she had to learn various elements of the trade and she needed to know where she would begin.
“You might assume that one carpenter does everything when assembling a sofa or desk, but in reality there are five to six different experts involved, each with their own specialism like joinery, sanding, tailors, stuffing, varnishing and finishers,” she says.
Joinery was her first skill to acquire which she started in 2016. This she did while she came up with sketches and prototypes.
Throughout her career, she has learnt how to balance and approach various market challenges.
“It has been an investment and required a lot of patience and faith, with business very much linked to the economy,” said Ms Kamau. Pricing depends on the wood (all Kenyan sourced), fabric and design that the customer chooses.
“This is one of the parts I enjoy the most, working with them and coming up with their perfect piece of furniture!” Ms Kamau says her wood is sourced directly from the plantation where possible while she prefers Ankara and Kitenge for the fabrics depending on a customer’s choice.
She notes that this kind of business is quite competitive and is full of counterfeit products. “There is also quite a lot of design copying and some poor-quality rushed work. I think this is what can make people lose faith in locally produced furniture and opt for more expensive imported goods,” said Ms Kamau.
She describes her work as “simple and modern” whose main focus is comfort and flexibility.
Her marketing mostly relies on social media and through recommendations and word of mouth.
Her furniture’s prices ranges between Sh12,000 and Sh150,000 depending on wood, workmanship and time taken to work on the piece.
In a good month she is able to get orders totalling Sh300,000.
In her daily engagements, she works with up to 15 carpenters depending on the order and their area of expertise required. “Customers’ feedback is what keeps me going because it has not been easy building the company to where it is.”
"I really want to ensure that the customer loves it, so with every piece of furniture I try and understand what they really want and how it can fit with their vision for the room,” she said.