For three decades, Anne Mutua has devoted herself to the artistry of crafting bead products, with her specialty being handbags adorned with a unique type of bead known as “saramic.”
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Anne’s path diverged from her initial dreams when financial constraints prevented her from pursuing a university education in journalism.
Instead, she found herself in Nairobi, taking on the responsibility of supporting her younger siblings who were still in school.
However, fate had something different in store for Anne.
She crossed paths with a man she affectionately remembers as Mr. Munyao.
He became her mentor and guide, imparting invaluable technical knowledge about crafting beadwork with precision.
With determination and the guidance of Mr. Munyao, Anne quickly honed her skills. Part of her rapid progress could be attributed to her mother, who also possessed expertise in beadwork.
Together, they operated a small venture from a car parking space on Kigali Road for two years before their spot was demolished.
Despite the setback, Anne’s spirit remained unbroken.
She contemplated her future and decided to open a stall to become self-reliant.
From that moment onwards, she embarked on a journey filled with creativity and dedication, and she never looked back.
Today, Anne showcases her bead artistry at the Maasai market, where she and fellow artisans have designated trading days in various locations.
On Saturdays and Sundays, they operate near the Supreme Court, providing a vibrant display of their creations.
City Market and the area near Michuki Gardens, opposite Kijabe Road, host their stalls on Tuesdays.
To create her exquisite beadwork, Anne procures materials like saramic beads, wood, and other necessary items.
Her specialty lies in crafting a range of handbags adorned with saramic beads, each unique in size and design.
Prices for these intricately designed bags range from Ksh 500 to Ksh 2,000, making them accessible to a broad audience.
Anne’s commitment to her craft extends to meeting deadlines for orders.
She often enlists the help of three employees to ensure that every piece is completed with precision and delivered on time. Beyond her creative endeavors, Anne also shares her expertise by training other artisans, empowering them to become self-employed.
Apart from training many self-employed artisans, I also sell to retailers and wholesalers, as well as tourists, through the social media platform Facebook,” she explains.
However, Anne acknowledges that her profession is not without its challenges.
The decline in tourism has had a significant impact on her business, as tourists are no longer frequenting the markets as they once did. This shift has made local buyers more important than ever.
Operating in open markets also exposes her merchandise to the unpredictable elements of weather. Intense sun and rain can damage the delicate beadwork, adding another layer of complexity to her trade.
Despite these challenges, Anne remains resolute in her dedication to bead artistry.
Furthermore, Anne emphasizes the need for a permanent market space to provide stability and security for artisans like herself. This would not only protect their creations from the elements but also offer a more consistent platform for showcasing their craft to the world.