Sharon Cherotich, aged 29, has found her niche in the crocheting industry, where she has been for the past three years.
Her company, dubbed Shaiez Handmade Crochet Bags, makes beautiful and classic hand-crocheted bags in various sizes using quality and durable materials like polyester yarn.
She started her venture in 2020 during the lockdown period.
Her business has now expanded with shops in Kericho and Nairobi, which have employed six full-time employees.
In a month, she makes around sh 40 000 in profits.
This is her journey as told by WoK:
A Profitable Hobby
Sharon was motivated to start crotcheting by her grandmothers, whom she says were master crocheters as they stitched sweaters and ropes for sale.
She learnt the craft from them at a young age and soon it became a hobby.
In 2017, while working as a safety supervisor at a construction site, she would crotchet and stitch things like scarves, beanies, and socks to beat the boredom.
She had started with only one yarn and a crochet, which cost her about sh 150.
She would then sell the socks and scarves around Kericho and they sold like hotcakes due to the cold climate of the area.
When starting out, she sold about four scarves per week to school-going children.
She would sell a scarf for sh 400, making a monthly profit of about sh 5 000.
However, the money was too little and she thought of expanding her business.
She researched more on crochet designs, the materials needed, and their availability, and settled on crotcheting bags.
That was how her company, Shariez Handmade Bags, was born.
In 2020, during the lockdown period, Sharon purchased materials worth about sh 500 and started crocheting her first bag, which took her about three months to complete.
However, she was only able to sell the bag after two months.
This initially discouraged her, and she wondered whether the business was really worth it.
By the end of 2020, she had made about six bags and the business was picking up slowly.
In 2021, her efforts paid off and business skyrocketed after she attended the national business expo in Kericho.
Her business has now grown so far that she has shops in Kericho and Nairobi, where she sells crotchet accessories and has employed six full-time employees.
Her trendy and fashionable bags are made with different specifications including material size, design, interior, and color, depending on the customer’s preference.
She told Standard that her bags are designed for various occasions like Maxi Summer, Princess, Oreo, Zigzag, Tiffany, BBG, Susie, Summer, African, Popcorn, and Diana. which gives customers a wide choice of variety.
Secret to success
Sharon credits the growth of her business to attending various expos and exhibitions.
She says she has attended about 12 exhibitions.
The most recent was the Nakuru Annual Agricultural Society of Kenya expo, where she displayed her wares under the Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE) tent that had been established as a platform for SMEs to exhibit their wares.
These events allow her to expand her business by meeting high-end clients who are interested in her bags.
They are also great opportunities for her to explore and keep up with market trends.
Aside from exhibitions, she markets her products on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and also displays them at open-air markets.
Having been in the business for three years, she sells about 20-30 bags monthly, with prices ranging between sh 1500 to sh 4 500.
She estimates her profits to be around sh 40 000.
Some of the challenges she faces include the high cost of materials, as some are imported while others are produced locally.
In the future, she hopes to start exporting her products internationally and also open a crocheting school to pass on the craft.