Just about two years ago, Sharon Zarita made the ultimate decision to turn her passionate hobby into a money minting enterprise. On May 2016, armed with a capital of Kshs 30,000 and driven by her love for the family unit, she set out to build what would be Suza Crafts World – the one stop shop for wedding cards and stationery in Kenya.
“The major thing that drove me into being an entrepreneur is the need to do more. I realized that each of us has a part to play in the marketplace and if I am confined to another job I won’t be able to effectively play my part. With Suza Crafts World, I had been making cards only as a hobby so when I got to the point where I was asking myself what part I should play in the marketplace. I looked at my hands and decided to turn my hobby into a profitable enterprise.”
“I settled on wedding cards because I am very passionate about the family unit which is something that I strongly believe that if every child grew up in a family unit where the father and mother (or respective figures) played their roles effectively, so many vices in our society would be non-existent. And because weddings are the first indication that a new family is coming up, I decided to be at the fore front of announcing, through cards, that there is a union starting that may make things right in our society.”
Suza Crafts World which was built out of Sharon’s love for the family unit offers quality wedding stationery using high-quality materials and handcrafting techniques. Based in Nairobi, Sharon capitalized on her passionate hobby in handcrafting of cards, though a year ago when she was starting the journey, the grounds looked unpromising for this young successful lady.
“The beginning was tough, very tough. I started off with an empty office space with only a carpet to sit on.” It was with sheer drive, passion and persistence on her craft that pushed her to hold despite the difficult beginnings.
In May she was able to craft handle her first business while sitting on the floor and this is when she started questioning her decision to go full time on entrepreneurship as opposed to seeking a formal corporate job. “I questioned more than once if this path I had chosen was right. A couple of times I was tempted to pick my certificates and go look for a job. But I kept telling myself even if I quit, this desire to pursue my gift will not just die. It will keep burning inside me and I won’t be happy until it gets quenched.”
This is when Sharon decided to break the journey into small applicable targets. Sharon would write the things that she needed to start off with and brought them slowly out of the profits she would get from the streaming orders. This gave her much hope that she needed to keep pushing forward. “It was not until last year October that the list of furniture I needed for my space was fully ticked out,” says Sharon. Since October 2016, Suza Crafts World has been able to release about 25 wedding products into the market and nothing is about to stop this young lady from transforming the entire wedding creative industry in the region. The least she can make for any wedding at any particular time is Kes 10,000 (USD 100).
Sharon believes that anyone can be an entrepreneur as long as they have the capability to start with whatever is on their hands. She crafts all the designs by hand and contracts various designers and printers to work with her.” New ideas for a crafter are all around but the best ideas come as you craft. You may start making a card with a particular design in mind and by the time you finish, it is much better than you thought. Practice makes perfect.”
Suza Crafts World just celebrated her 1 year anniversary in May this year and the main highlight of her business this year was being involved in the highly publicized Kes 100 wedding of Anne & Wanjohi’s.
“When the buzz was going on, one of my best friends gave me a heads-up and asked me to chip in by making their invite cards. When I got in touch with the main organizer, another service provider had already reached out. But when we held the planning meeting I came earlier and was slotted in charge of the invites. It was a narrow escape. This wedding brought together over 50 major service providers in the wedding industry.” Such opportunities have provided SCW with the much-needed validation that every young business requires.
Sharon crafting some wedding cards for her clients.
Sharon has a background in journalism and media studies having pursued a degree on the same at The University of Nairobi class of 2015, counts working as a fashion writer on probation at an online lifestyle magazine as the only employment she’s had. She has also done a sign language course from Kenya Sign Language Project.
Key takeaway lessons you can acquire from Sharon:
What general advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneur’s especially young people who are venturing into entrepreneurship?
First, know and identify exactly what need you want to fulfill in society. The role are you called to play in the marketplace. Once you know, focus on it. We grow slower as young entrepreneurs because we want to do a million and one ventures. I used to craft too many items before I settled on wedding cards. But when I did, the growth has been immense and my clientele base is growing gradually.
In addition, be diligent in service, give all your heart into delivering your product/ service and don’t shortchange your clients. If you give them value for their money, they will always come back. Bear in mind the journey in building a brand is not easy but if your aim is to be at the agenda setting table in your field then you cannot give up. Keep moving!
On Productivity and Leadership…
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
The biggest trick I have learned is doing tasks as they come. If it can be done today, then why wait for tomorrow? This stems from a to-do list which I try to stick to every day. I have also made it a personal decision to call or meet my clients personally instead of going back and forth via text or email. It saves a lot of time and you get to express your ideas better in getting the perfect design for the client.
What leadership lessons can you advise a young person who is venturing into entrepreneurship?
Leaders will always let the clients be first in everything. Be a good listener, and exercise patience when handling your clients. Then mentor someone else, what a waste of opportunity it would be if you walk this journey without sharing the experience and knowledge with someone else.
What’s your greatest entrepreneurial achievement to be proud of?
The happy face when my clients get to pick their cards. That gives me a give a satisfactory smile giving you the much confidence that feels likes getting a coveted award. In addition, the fact that at least a hundred people will know there’s a new union starting through the work of my art is always an achievement to be proud of.
If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?
I will actually write a book about my journey and will name it “My Splash of Yellow” drawn from the fact that there is something within us, which if pursued, will warm our hearts and fill us with unspeakable joy.
Follow Sharon on Instagram: @suzacraftsworld / Facebook: Sharon Zarita