After working as a designer in an advertising agency for seven years to 2012, Ms. Mary Gatabaki decided to jump into the world of entrepreneurship, choosing to go into carpentry to produce children’s furniture. The first pieces of furniture she had ever made before fully going into business were a bed for her daughter and several storage units for herself and friends to much praise.
Ms. Gatabaki, who is a mother of two, initially treated carpentry as a hobby while still working at the agency. Her husband however saw a business opportunity and prodded her to pursue it. He pushed her to quit her job and get into this fulltime. Her husband also gave her the starting capital of Kshs. 500,000. The capital included rent and other overheads for six months.
Just like that, Little Cribs Limited was born, with the workshop situated in Ruaka and a showroom in Kilimani. The business produces convertible cribs, regular beds and bunk beds, storage units and dressers, study tables and chairs and wall art, such as name boards and message boards, among several other items.
Ms. Gatabaki, 35, hired two employees when she opened shop, both of them on contract. One of the challenges she faced was that, since the business had two bases, it was inconveniencing especially when clients asked for some adjustments.
Another hiccup the young business faced and one the business is still dealing with is the “fundi mentality” where carpenters deliver the goods later than usual or do not meet the clients’ specifications.
Little Cribs Limited now has 12 carpenters. They have to constantly do quality control to ensure that they produce the same standard of products. Two years ago, her elder sister Ms. Teresia Gachie also quit her sales and marketing job in the hospitality and joined the fledgling family business.
Little Cribs Limited sells its convertible cribs at Kshs. 30,000 while storage units cost Kshs. 3,000. Study table and chairs go for Kshs. 18,500 and Kshs. 8,500 respectively. Name boards cost Kshs. 2,900, message boards Kshs. 4,500 while beds are priced at Kshs. 30,000 and above.
Ms. Gatabaki is the creative of the pair. She designs the products and supervises their production while her sister manages the client portfolio and markets the brand. Ms. Gachie set up internal systems for accounting and marketing, including definitive strategies on social media and other platforms to push their products into the market. It is here that the sisters undeniably complement each other’s skills.
Last year, the duo received a Kshs. 2 million interest free loan from her family members to expand the business, enabling them relocate their workshop from Ruaka to Ngong Road.