Enterprise

Student builds his shoe venture one step at a time

viatu-karanja

Victor Karanja, 22 year old student. NMG PHOTO

Summary

  • When Covid-19 struck in March last year, students found themselves at home doing very little.
  • This was the cases for Victor Karanja. However, instead of sitting on his laurels as he waits for the schools to reopen, Mr Karanja chose to apply his talent and be productive.
  • He started to embark on making customised shoes. 

When Covid-19 struck in March last year, students found themselves at home doing very little. This was the cases for Victor Karanja. However, instead of sitting on his laurels as he waits for the schools to reopen, Mr Karanja chose to apply his talent and be productive.

He started to embark on making customised shoes. When Enterprise visited the 22-year-old at his home in Utawala, in Nairobi, we found him at work.

The second year student studying Hospitality and Management at Zetech College says he decided to take advantage of the lengthy holiday, to do something that would not only keep him preoccupied, but also give him some good returns by applying his talent and artistry skills.

"I am a sneaker customiser and I'm also an artist. What inspired me to start this business was basically to try to break the monotony of people having the same design of shoes," he says.

"Many people want to stand out and be different in their mode of dressing be it the shoes or even the clothes they put on."

To start with, Mr Karanka conducted an in-depth research on what he required for his new business starting from the amount of capital and raw materials.

He did his research mainly online, especially on the You-tube channel, which he used to sharpen his creativity and artistry skills and learnt more about different designs.

“I did my research on basically everything. I figured where I could get the paints at a reasonable price. I researched on the tools which I would use for my work such as brushes and tapes," he says.

“I learnt how to make different designs which are appealing to my target market."

He raised Sh180,000 capital, which comprised his savings and a loan which he took from his parents.

"I used the money to import different high quality paints which I needed from the US because the paints are not locally available."

He also imported “quality” paints from America.

It was not, however, a smooth ride for Mr Karanja when starting.

"I faced an array of challenges. The custom duty for the paints after importation was just too expensive but fortunately I managed with the help of my parents,"

Convincing potential customers about his products was another arduous task, while finding quality working tools also caused him many sleepless nights at the beginning.

"It has not been easy to get market for my products because most people assume the paints will wash off which is not true because the paints I use are of high quality," he states.

"It is very difficult to find local quality products."

The teething setbacks, however, did not deter the unrelenting student but instead they made him even more determined to succeed and his efforts have since started bearing fruits.

Currently, Mr Karanja sells a pair of his customized shoes between Sh3,000 and Sh3,800 depending on the design selected by the client.

Although his products can be used by people of every age, he says his target market is young people and the new generation which is keen on keeping up with fashion trends and designs.

"My target market includes people of all ages but I mainly focus on the young generation since they are the ones who are up in style and fashion trends,” he says.

The student says he uses locally available tools which are easily available in shop outlets such as brushes, paints, tapes among others.

He uses social media to market his products.

"I advertise on Instagram and Facebook by posting pictures of my products and videos of me doing my work. I use my social media handles @Vika_customz and @vika_customz and Instagram and Facebook respectively," he says.

Other than giving him a source of income, the business has enabled him to grow in variety of ways.

"Through this business, I have grown mentally, I have greatly improved my marketing skills…," he reveals.

He adds: "My future plans are to expand my business to a customised clothing brand. I am about to launch a cloth line coming soon and yes I will continue with it."

Mr Karanja advises the youth to use their talents and earn a living.

"What I would like to say to all my fellow youths is that they should utilize their talents in a good way and look out for their future and that no dream is too big," he advises.