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For the love of handmade crafts



The decision to go back to school after a failed marriage set Lydia Amondi Otieno on path to empower herself as a woman and to become the best mother to her two children. It also saw her venture into a business she is passionate about: selling products made with African sisal under a registered company she calls Urembo Creations Kenya.

The idea to set up Urembo Creations was initiated by a friend who was impressed by her exotic, unique and beautiful taste, especially in décor and bags and convinced her to set up a business. She also needed to make money on the side to complement what she currently earns as the is the principal insurance officer at Connect plus Africa Ltd Microfinance.

“Urembo Creations basically deals in African sisal- woven baskets, kikapus, kiondos, tote bags, jewellery, home décor and kitchen organisers. We sell products through Etsy (an American e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies), targeting international clients,” the 29-year-old businesswoman says.

Thankfully, she knew a number of friends in the business who recommended weavers across the region to her. She purchases the different products from them, and in cases where orders are unique and

very specific, she commissions weavers to create them. What she needed to do this was her laptop, a Gmail account and her Visa card for payment. Fortunately, setting up an Etsy shop is free.

“The only fee they charge is for listing of your products which is Sh20 per product you put up on display,” she says.

Lydia Amondi, founder of Urembo Creations. TOP/ 1 LEFT. Products ‘ she sells on Etsy

Back to school
Lydia also has a page on Facebook through which she gets local orders.

Interestingly, this was not how she had imagined her life would pan out. After completing her secondary education in 2008, she undertook a diploma course in banking and finance at Mount Kenya University, Nakuru Campus, where she met her ex-husband and father of her children. Upon completion, she became a house wife for three years before deciding to get back to working again, thanks to her supportive mother.

“She said to me over the phone, ‘Why do you want to behave like someone who is not educated? Go back to school and get yourself a degree for Christ sake.’ That was a wakeup call that completely changed my ideology. I requested my father to sponsor me and he gladly accepted. That’s how I found myself back in school again in 2014 for Bachelor of Education Arts (History and CRE),” she says.

The school-based programme enabled her to work during normal school months and study over the holiday.

It was hectic, though, being a wife, a mother, and a student trying to get a job in any local school. Luckily, she was able to land a job at a local secondary school where she was earning Sh5,000 a month and soon after another one that doubled her first salary. Teaching was good but with the low salary and threats of losing her job at any time, she decided to think outside the box and try other available opportunities. This is how she ended up in the banking sector.

“I worked with Faulu Microfinance Bank for one and half years from September 2017, then I got a better opportunity at Consolidated Bank, where I stayed for about 10 months before securing another opportunity at Jubilee Insurance Company in October 2019 as Unit Manager General Insurance, greater step, and huge responsibilities. Little did I know that this was a ticket to my current position at Connect Plus Africa Ltd,” she shares.

Slow adjustment

And so far everything is good with the business, despite a few hiccups along the way. “One main challenge at the moment is the shipping cost which is a bit high since Covid-19 came around. Shipping also takes longer as compared to the previous three to five days. The prices of products on Etsy ranges from Sh3,800-Sh12,000, depending on the quality, make and design; this is exclusive of the shipping fee. For the Kenyan market, products cost between Sh1,500 and Sh10,000,” she says.

Juggling between her 9-5 and Urembo creations is something she is slowly adjusting to at the moment because. “First, my job is also demanding and due to different time zones, most shoppers are awake while we are a sleep. This means I have to stay awake late at night to check a few personalised responses.

I am working on the project alone and, maybe with time as sales increase and orders become many I will need some help,” she explains. The young business lady is also venturing into farming with help from her parents, both of who are farmers. “As long as I am able to earn extra, why not? That’s my drive now. If I want a good life for my Kids and I, this is the time to create it, so I have to keep on grinding.

I usually say your security as a woman is your own money; there’s nothing that gives me joy like swiping my own card, so I have to do more. Above all, God has been faithful; the transition hasn’t been an easy ride but again nothing goods come in a comfort zone,” she says.


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