Glena De Guzman: The Kenyan Filipina Who Dropped Out Of University To Found Made In Kenya

Young people in Kenya have in the recent past become quite innovative in creating sources of incomes aside from the traditional formal employment. In this article, we take a look at one such innovative woman who dropped out of university to start making and selling jewelry. Today, she is the proud owner of the ‘Made in Kenya’ store situated at the Alchemist Bar in Westlands, Nairobi.

Here is the full story of Glena De Guzman as told by WoK.

Glena de Guzman Background

Glena De Guzman was born in 1984 in the Philippines but her parents relocated to Kenya in 1992 when she was barely eight years old. After clearing both primary and secondary school education, Glena joined the United States International University (USIU) where she pursued International Relations and Human Resources. While speaking during an exclusive interview with Nation, she revealed that she never completed the course because her passion for academics simply faded away.

“I didn’t graduate as my passion for the course waned. As a child, I had a passion for making friendship bracelets. When we got to university, my sister Glaiza Guzman suggested we start making jewelry and so we broke the news to our dad who understood and supported us,” she said.

Also Read: Kimani Wa Makaratasi: How Businessman Transformed Ksh1,600 Mshwari Loan into Multi-Million Empire

Business Journey

The two had discovered that the best place to get the beads was along River Road in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD). They bought their first load of beads and began working on their living room floor to make a collection. They would then identify events around Nairobi where they would apply and get an opportunity to exhibit their products. After doing that for a while, they decided to establish a fashion brand which they named ‘Pink Savannah.’ The brand produces customized bangles, bracelets, earrings and necklaces which are all hand made by Glena and her sister. They would then begin advertising and selling the products on the internet through their official website. They would do that for a while before deciding to establish a physical store in 2017.

The Made in Kenya store

After running the business online for a while, the duo would then get an idea of setting up a physical store where they can showcase their products and give others a platform to showcase their products as well, hence the birth of the ‘Made in Kenya’ stores. Made in Kenya Stores is located at the Alchemist Bar and Restaurant along Parklands road in Westlands, Nairobi.

They showcase and sell over 40 local artisanal brands ranging from jewelry and leatherwork to fashion and homeware. About 80 percent of the brands are women-owned and this helps to economically empower the girl child. The facility provides a retail store for smaller brands who are just starting out and can’t afford a big space in the available malls.  Some of the brands available at the store include One Hundred Years, Sandstorm, Eleleck, Kipato Unbranded, Katungulu, Lilabare, Olive & Annie, Ocell, Pinod Nord Design, Kapoeta, Bongosawa and Nya’Kan.