Small Enterprise

Meet Kisumu tailor tying up big interior decor deals

Wilson Nyikal works at his stall at Kilimani
Wilson Nyikal works at his stall at Kilimani Shopping Centre in Kisumu. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI 

Wilson Nyikal does not regret quitting his job as an M-Pesa attendant in April 2011 to open a tailoring shop.

Armed with some skills on sewing, a little capital, a hired sewing machine and lots of optimism, Mr Nyikal’s dream was to become a household name in creating interior decorations. His gaze was fixed on making curtains, cushions, pillows, artificial flowers and flower pots.

Four years later and the 29-year-old’s enterprise — Will Interior Decors — has sold hundreds of curtains and other items. Mr Nyikal has been contracted to decorate more than 30 homes, a feat he said he never imagined he would attain a couple of years ago.

The businessman has since added one more item to his creations: bags. Mr Nyikal has moved from hiring a sewing machine for Sh500 a month to owning three machines capable of sewing a wide range of fabrics.

His list of clients includes organisations like USAid and and an NGO promoting reproductive in Nyanza region. He operates from a stall at Kilimani Shopping Centre on the edge of Kisumu’s Milimani Estate. He runs the business together with his wife Micah, and they have one employee.

“What has kept me going is my ability to retain clients,” Mr Nyikal said, adding that he was introduced to the trade by his elder sister.

“Shoddy work has long-term implications in this kind of business. So whenever a customer makes an order I stop at nothing to ensure they get worthwhile products.”

Mr Nyikal charges Sh4,500 for one curtain and accompanying installation per window,

“The cost includes labour. However, it varies depending on the type of fabric a client wants and decorations,” he said.

Milkah sources materials for curtains from open-air markets in Kisumu to supplement those obtained from shops.

“Most second-hand fabrics have unique characteristics which you can hardly find in shops. We harness this quality as much as we can,” said Mr Nyikal.

Their last big order was in October last year when they secured a deal to fix curtains for Kisumu County Hospital offices.

“It was a big assignment but we handled it within the deadline because of the work ethics we have developed. There can never be an overwhelming task for us as long as we are organised,” Mr Nyikal said.

Once they get an order, the three design the product, cut the fabric and sew — activities they share to speed up work. However, curtains are not always in high demand, which is why Mr Nyikal has diversified to bags.

The enterprise makes bags to suit a wide variety of clients. The bags are also customised to meet different client’s tastes.
“It is not every day that people want to fix curtains or do a makeover of their interior decorations.

‘‘My observation is that business tends to be on a high during the last three months of the year. So when there are no orders to work on, making bags becomes our lifeline because there will always be someone looking for a bag to buy,” Mr Nyikal said.
The three sew bags using materials ranging from jeans to canvas and sell each for at least Sh500. When we interviewed them for this article, the tailors were working on an order of canvas bags for USAid. Mr Nyikal said that it was not the first assignment for the organisation.

Proceeds of the business have enabled the Nyikals to cater for the upkeep of their two children and pay bills.

“This is a better deal than what I used to get as an M-Pesa attendant. My plan is to move to a bigger workshop and invest in more fabrics to serve more customers,” Mr Nyikal said.