Giving old clothes a new lease of life
As we walked to Diana Mugure’s compound, we found her busy making cement paste. On her left side was a pile of old clothes and sacks. Upon inquiring what she was up to, she pointed at some flower vases at the corner of the room, and said she was preparing to make more of such pieces. I was perplexed, but I couldn’t wait to learn how such beautiful pieces of art could be made using cement and old clothes.
Diana’s love for Do It Yourself (DIY) dates back to when she was a child. She is the kind of a person who believes that she can come up with anything she likes without the help of an expert.
Going round her mother’s house is a clear indication this is something she has always been passionate about. Different artwork welcomes you to their house and she is behind everything.
Student of the interent “I am one of those people who don’t give up when they want something done. Though all along I have been doing it for fun, I have now strategised it for business,” says the 23-year-old, civil engineering student at Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology.
For business, she is upcycling old clothes and sacks to make flower vases, something already earning her a fortune. The business started by default one month after the onset of Covid-19 in the country.
Bored with nothing to do, Mugure and her family decided to have a thorough cleaning of their home. At the end of it, they had a huge pile of old clothes and blankets, which couldn’t be used any more.
Without a proper disposal method, she decided to upcycle them, but had no idea what to make. This prompted her to research; that is how she learned she could make flower vases using old clothes and cement. She liked the idea and spent several days on YouTube learning how to do it.
After gaining sufficient knowledge to get her going, she was ready for the challenge. She decided to involve her family in the process. After putting all the ideas together,
they managed to come up with a vase, but the end product was not that appealing.
For the environment “To start, we used an old T-shirt and some cement we came across during our cleaning to make the first vase. Though we managed to make something closer to a vase, the product was weak and could break easily, yet from what I had learned the product is supposed to be firm and unbreakable,” she says.
From the experience, her family gave up, but she did not. She went back to the drawing board to find out what went wrong. After watching several videos, she realised they used weak cement. She also learnt that after the product is dry it is supposed to be reinforced with more cement to make it firmer.
She put what she learnt in practise and, although she didn’t get the desired result, she noticed some improvement. She made more vases, but this time round went for stronger (fresh) cement and the result was great.
“When starting out, I wanted to make flower vases for our own use. Because of this, I had enough time to perfect my art. My family was supportive and even bought the materials I needed,” says Mugure.
As the English man says practice makes perfect, eventually by July, Mugure managed to come up with a firm vase. The family fell in love with it and with her father’s help, she decorated it. Her mother couldn’t hide her joy and she posted the product on one of her social media platforms. This is how orders started flowing.
“This was my 11th product and people couldn’t believe I made it using old clothes. I was proud of my work. When my first customer ordered two vases, I went with eight vases of different designs and the family ended up buying all of them,” Mugure says proudly.
She made others and started using both hers and her mother’s social media platforms to sell. However, for the whole of that month she didn’t sell anything. The following months orders started flowing and she decided to make it a business, culminating in Rona Flower pots. She opened a shop in Karen where a family friend sells the pieces.
The uniqueness of her products differentiates them from others. Her pricing also has contributed big to her success as her products range between Sh500 to Sh2,000. Currently she is making about 10 pieces every a week, but she can supply any order. It takes about five days for a vase to be ready.
She plans to make this her main business; that is why she has opened a second shop along Eastern bypass.
“I have been creating awareness about these products, especially on social media where most of my clients come from. I want all Kenyans to know that these unique products are helping us protect our environment since these old clothes would have ended up in the landfill,” she says in conclusion.