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Accountant turned designer for love of fashion

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The trend of rocking local designs and styles has with no doubt graced our fashion scenes. Now more than ever, people are keen on brands offering quality and creativity.

Veer Sendeyo is among the designers making it easier for people embracing local brands to fall in love with fancy clothes as an everyday look and not just for specific occasions.

As a fashion enthusiast, she is determined to prove that fashion isn’t about what is in your closet, but more about the combination great clothes can pull to create a look. Behind the floral pieces, asymmetrical cuts, and vibrant clashedup patterns lies the story of her business, Everyday Look.

As someone with an eye for fashion, Veer would often come up with unique designs for her sister, who by that time was a reporter at a local station.

Having seen the insane hours her elder sister spent at work and her limited time on pairing up clothes, she stepped in and stylied her outfits, something that worked out as a learning experience when she became a designer.

Models showcase some of Veer’s designs. COURTESY

Start from scratch

Soon enough, she started getting clients through referrals and this turned out to be one of the greatest phases of the business. “I didn’t have any capital, so I would honour every single request I received. However, the only problem I had at that time was convincing clients that I would deliver orders in time.” In 2010, she met her husband, who came in as a silent partner and helped to boost the business. “He paved way for me in the design field. By then, he was a T-shirt and hoodies designer under the brand name RykMchoraji,” Veer says.

The couple worked together and Veer was soon introduced to capable embroidery, finishing and detailing experts.

Despite making a good team, Veer says working with her husband challenged her to achieve more as an entrepreneur.

“He is not very patient, especially on repeat mistakes. He says I’m too rigid in embracing market needs. To some extent I am, and I suppose change is scary to everyone and I am no different,” she says.

Nevertheless, after graduating from university, she interned as an accountant at Eldad Engineering and later moved to Ashbury, a professional training centre. Throughout her working experience, she was able to acquire business skills that helped her in the business.

However, she wasn’t able to adjust to her new fate because her heart longed for fashion. “The more I was away from the business, the more I lost clients and I just couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to fail in the one beautiful thing I had created,” she explains.

It was no surprise that she decided to quit her job as an accountant, and focused on being a designer. As a sole proprietor of her business, she was determined to come back stronger and with newer ideas.

However, in 2016, she went on maternity leave and her business hit rock bottom. Although she had employed workers, clients would particularly prefer her. “My clients wouldn’t work with anyone else other than me, and at that time I was going through so many things and I had no option than to take a break,” she adds.

After the leave, she had to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch to attract clients.

“Fortunately, with my business model as long as I market my services, there are always orders,” she adds.

Even with the hurdles she was going through, she proved to be as tough and resilient. The 31-year-old mother of one can attest to is that navigating any business is not easy. One of the biggest challenges she has had to deal with is competing with lowly priced imports, especially from China and second-hand clothes that seem to be the preference of most people. However, she is not crushed.

Models showcase some of Veer’s designs. COURTESY

A bit rigid

“The market is broad and there is room for us all I suppose since market needs and business models differ,” she says.

Currently with the wake of the pandemic, Veer has had to count a fair share of losses since most of her order were from ceremonies and uniform.

She says in the coming years, she will work harder to ensure she comes up with newer ideas and revamps her style to suit her clientele.

“A majority of Kenyans are a bit rigid when it comes to fashion. This has limited my creativity as people are more comfortable trying out styles they have seen before and not totally new ones,” she says.

By PD

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How working from home charted a new career for me

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When her children began going to school, Frida Mwangi, a stay-at-home mum, found herself in a crisis: she didn’t know what to do with the free time in her hands.

Though she really wanted to work, one thing she was sure of was she didn’t want an eight-to-five job.

“I wanted to be able to manage my house as usual. I had heard about online work and I started researching on what it was and how I too could do it from home,” she narrates

The research took about a month, and during this time, she connected with a Facebook community in Kenya comprising people who worked online.

It is by following the conversations that she discovered what she wanted to try out: transcribing.

“I was in the house for so long and lacked technical skills. I realised the easiest work I would have done there is transcription because all I needed was to understand English, which would assist me in following guidelines clients were looking for,” she says.

Determined to learn more about transcribing, Frida reached out to one of the ladies doing transcription training for tutorials and that’s how she learnt the craft.

In 2015, she began working as a transcriber in one of the leading global freelancing market spaces, where she became top rated after only four months in the job.

In 2017, she built a website, and registered her own online company dubbed, Kazi Remote.

“When I was still working as a transcriber, I thought transcription was a western thing and Kenyans did not need them.

After creating the website, I began getting calls from academics doing their thesis, market research companies in Kenya and law firms in need of transcription services. This expanded the base of my customers,” she explains.

Her website has also attracted clients from Europe, Canada and American clients, some of whom have come to the country for research and are looking for a person who understands and can write Kiswahili.

“I got Sh1,000 from my first client, but after PayPal charges I received Sh800.

For the first six months I worked alone and after that, I got a big client who had over 200 hours of work, which would last up to six months. He was a Stanford university student,” she says.

Frida soon realised she needed other trained transcribers to assist her with the workload.

Due to the nature of the work, Frida doesn’t have a permanent workforce, but works with freelancers who can work from home, provided they have a laptop and reliable Internet. She began with five freelancers, but is currently working with 20.

She says one hour recording can take four hours of writing and two hours for going through the work if one is a very experienced transcriber.

The standard time given in transcription is 24 hours hence one can plan on the amount of time they can spend on work.

“When I started, I charged clients Sh1,000 an hour of recorded work. Currently there are clients paying Sh6,000 or even Sh10,000 an hour, especially if you are working with business companies,” she says.

But working indoors came with the challenge of people dropping in her house all the time thinking that she was free with nothing to do.

“I would receive visitors and I didn’t know how to tell them that I am working.

It got to the point where I would lock the house after taking my kids to school so that people would think am not around.

Or if they managed to come in, I would leave them in the living room on their own,” she narrates.

Slowly by slowly, Frida managed to resolve this issue as family and friends began taking her work seriously.

But even while others understood she was working, there were those who branded her a mzungu, because of this strict way of living.  Another challenge was the consistency of work.

“When it comes to bidding, this is online and it’s not about where you went to school or how many degrees you have, but whether you are able to solve the client’s problem,” she says.

Frida notes the reason most people fail in online work is because they treat it as a side hustle instead of a main gig and also don’t conduct enough research while at it.

“Online work is something you can do as a career. For instance, right now, the highest paid job is intellectual property something that a lawyer from Kenya can do if they acquire the relevant skills.

There is a lot of demand for them in that they can actually earn Sh15,000 per hour online,” she explains.

People interested in this field should ensure they learn new skills on top of the ones they have and be intentional on their career path.

Her customer base increased after she created her website as people were able to find her on Google.

Frida notes one reason transcribing is not established in Kenya is because unlike in the West, it is not included in the laws.

In countries such as the US, there are laws which ensure that videos, audios are also texted so people who can’t read or write can access the information.

“In America, there are companies who have earning calls (teleconference, or webcast in which a public company discusses financial results of a reporting period), which must be transcribed.

These calls need to be transcribed within six hours and uploaded to the company’s websites. These are the ones who pay up to Sh10,000.

There are also universities, which require students doing research projects must have their interviews transcribed when it’s qualitative.

Some colleges there go as far as having budgets for transcription,” she adds.

Her effort was rewarded in 2018 when she was listed among the Business Daily 40 under 40 Women.

“When you look at that whole list, there was no single person in the online industry so I am happy that through me, they were represented.

One of my aunties saw that and asked how the media found me when I’ve always been in the house,” she recalls.

By PD.co.ke

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Adopt cremation instead of burials, Kenyans urged

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Kenyans have been urged to adopt cremation instead of burials in order to save trees and also reduce the cost of resting their loved ones.

According to Rotarian Mburu Machua, using wooden coffins during burials had contributed to the depletion of both indigenous and exotic trees thereby posing a serious global climate change.

He says that the country’s forest cover had continued decreasing due to logging and charcoal burning as well as using firewood in cooking in rural areas.

Machua who is a lawyer said that it would be prudent for the government to encourage people to be cremated if it expects to achieve the globally required 10 per cent forest cover.

‘I have been prevailing upon my clients writing their wills to state that they should be cremated upon their death and believe you me, most of them have embraced the idea’, he said.

He spoke at Bibirioni primary school in Limuru during a tree planting exercise which saw the Limuru rotary club in conjunction with the Limuru municipality planting close to 500 indigenous tree species.

Machua said that the cost of burials has become very expensive compared to cremation which is cost-effective.

‘Being cremated wastes fewer resources than burial more so because one does not incur plot or land fees’, he said.
Several prominent Kenyans including environmentalist Wangari Mathai, Kenneth Matiba, and Bob Collymore were cremated when they died.

Many Kenyans take cremation as a bizarre and unchristian exercise arguing that it’s lack of respect for their loved ones.

Municipality manager Michael Muna said that Kenyans should endevour to live in a paperless society for absolute afforestation to be realized.

Muna who is also the Kiambu West Kenya National Union of Teachers branch secretary said that Kenyans ought to embrace using metals and plastic instead of timber and wood.

‘If only it can dawn on every citizen that trees play a crucial role in our health particular in the prevention of respiratory diseases such as Covid-19, they can choose to voluntarily plant trees in every open space within their localities’, he said.

He said that the municipality is planning to plant trees in all schools and road reserves even as it engages in other development matters such as improving infrastructure.

‘The county government has channeled resources to municipalities from the World Bank and we have used the same in street lighting, drainage, and rehabilitation of bus park and roads’, he said.

He said that tree also prevent soil erosion thereby increasing productivity’s in farming.

The manager encouraged Kenyans to plant indigenous trees and fruits adding that the collaboration between Rotary clubs and the area municipalities envisages planting 1 million trees every year.

By PD.co.ke

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VIDEO: Chaotic scene as woman causes a stir in Meru

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