Jennifer Miguya: Nairobi's art scene is fantastic!
What you need to know:
- I appreciate how the younger generation is succeeding in this industry.
- From a communications standpoint, I’d like to see a long-term digital platform that allows young and upcoming artists to showcase their work, sell their work to international consumers, and advertise upcoming art events in the country.
- I have a visual idea of how this would look, and I believe it would be a game changer for the next generation of artists.
Jennifer is the founder of Paint and Sip Kenya, a company that hosts creative painting events to encourage individual's expressions, and let their creative sides shine. She is also a communications and marketing professional.
1. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Creative entrepreneur with an epic sense of humour. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, ever since I was a kid. In my early 20s, I used to sell jewellery on Dubois Street to my fellow college students. It was the first business venture I ever attempted and it was successful. I have always been artistic. In fact, for about two years, I ran a social media page called Turbans Ke, where I documented my then turbanista fashion lifestyle.
2. How did painting and sipping start and why did you feel there was a need for it in the market? How is it going? Is this – running events - something you went to school for and was it ever presented to you as a viable option for your future?
When I was in high school, I took art classes and excelled in them, but I didn’t pursue it further. I found that keeping a journal and painting pictures helped me relax and deal with the anxiety and panic I’m sure we all felt when the pandemic struck and the country went into lockdown. Some months later, I hosted some painting parties in my parents’ backyard, and the response from my friends was fantastic! Thereafter, I contacted Sonia from Chez Sonia and asked if I could host one in her private garden for a larger group of friends.
Some of her customers showed up an hour later, and we had a quick discussion about the possibility of turning it into a business. We held a single trial run and it was completely sold out in under 24 hours! The significance and influence of the sessions I had led dawned on me at that moment. Not only did I see first-hand how my clients felt after our sessions—relaxed and at peace—but I also got to be a part of giving young people in Nairobi a new way to spend their Sundays. I’ve built an incredible team, half of who are deaf, and we’ve hosted over a hundred sessions for the general public, corporate, and private parties, and are still expanding.
I studied art in high school, and architecture for a year (which did not go well, haha), but my background is in communications and marketing. I believe my parents foresaw my future as a businesswoman. My father actually gave me Sh5,000 for my first business (selling jewellery) and always encouraged me. I think my creativity is tied to my personality. To answer your question, I am extremely passionate about digital marketing – creating brands and cultivating online communities.
The Paint and Sip community just grew organically, and we take our online communication very seriously because it is the first and most important point of contact with our members. I only recently realised the risks of referring to my business as a ‘side hustle,’ which it clearly is not. I don’t have a side job because my full-time job and my weekend job are both equally important to me. My ‘side hustle’ is the polar opposite of what the term implies. It is not something I do to supplement or earn money. I believe it is critical to change the narrative surrounding our weekend activities for the sake of myself, my team, and my clients. I say this because, regardless of how we started, having a monetary goal diverts all stakeholders’ attention away from enjoying the experience and understanding why we do what we do. Basically, it is not about the money, it is more about the experience.
3. How do you coordinate your events? Is there a theme every month? Who are the majority of your attendees?
About once a month, we all gather at Chez Sonia for a regular session. Yes, we have a theme for every session, even though most weekends are booked with birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, and corporate gigs. We don’t want everyone in the group to be painting the same thing. Encouraging everyone present to use their imagination is central to the plan. You are the master of your own destiny, and it is our job to help you get there. We assign topics such as ‘gratitude,’ and have participants write about and paint their feelings of gratitude. It may sound challenging, but the goal is to make the customer’s session enjoyable by helping them make something meaningful. The emphasis should be placed on making something that has personal significance for you, not on making it look good for others. Although our initial clientele was predominantly female, we have since expanded to include males. People between the ages of 25 and 45 make up the bulk of our audience.
4. What would you say about the art scene in Kenya, and why does it seem as if it is one of the most ignored sectors in the country?
Nairobi’s art scene is fantastic. I’m always learning and exploring new places. I also appreciate how the younger generation is succeeding in this industry. Embe Creatives, Liminal Spaces, and Studio 18 are three of my favourite platforms and spaces that provide avenues and opportunities for young creative minds! From a communications standpoint, I’d like to see a long-term digital platform that allows young and upcoming artists to showcase their work, sell their work to international consumers, and advertise upcoming art events in the country. I have a visual idea of how this would look, and I believe it would be a game changer for the next generation of artists.
5. What events do you like attending and what would you like to see done better?
I adore Blankets And Wine, and Africa Nouveau (a multidisciplinary arts festival that brings together creators, curators, and fans of African cool from across Africa and the diaspora). The community, the young creative minds, the outfits, and the music are all fantastic! I also enjoy Nairobi Design Week, which takes place every year. More concerts and festivals devoted to alternative and neo-soul music would be welcome in my book. Now that I’m a bit older, I’d really appreciate a relaxing afternoon spent listening to live music. I’m more about the vibes and less about the party.