Molly Juma, 24, started HashtagDesigns, a company that deals in household and corporate hand crocheted flooring pieces about two years ago and looking back she says she has found so much fulfilment in being her own boss.
Born and raised in Siaya in a family of six siblings, Molly enrolled at Karapul Primary School and later joined Kenya High School. After high school, she joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a degree in Economics. She also holds a Diploma in Human Resource Management from Zetech University.
“All my siblings are in corporate employment apart from our last born brother who is a special needs child and me, having ventured into business,” says Molly.
“Besides my academic achievements, there is another side of me. I have always loved crocheting; as a hobby. While still on campus, a friend challenged me to delve into commercial production of house mats-with a promise to help me get clients- and that is how the business idea was born. I make looped fluffy mats and I love my job very much. I can actually unwind crocheting,” she says.
While in her fourth year in university, she resolved to go into business.
“Though I had no knowledge and foundation on how operations and market shares work, I decided to take up the challenge. I told myself that I had nothing much to lose since I was still young and open to more opportunities coming my way. The few people I talked to about my business in the inception stage gave me hope and helped me remain optimistic that everything would work out well.”
Equipped with nothing much but a few coins she had saved up, Molly decided to rent a house that would serve both as her workshop and residence.
She went on to purchase some production materials and voila, started producing house mats.
“For six months, we restricted ourselves to bedside and doormats then gradually moved to toilet pieces, carpets and other client’s needs,” she explains.
According to Molly, running a start-up has been a growth and rediscovery phase in her life.
“There are those tough days when I feel I can’t survive due to the harsh economic times and lack of a super solid support base. Then there are those days when you are literally laughing due to the good proceeds earned. I have learnt to prioritise, gain, lose friends and to be okay not being okay. I have gained so much knowledge: both in my industry and the economy at large. Above everything else, I have grown to be a woman I used to aspire to be: knowing what really matters,” she says.
She is currently remodelling her business.
“I have made a lot of mistakes and learnt from them. As days pass by, I have come to believe that what sets me apart from the rest in the mat crocheting industry is that I spend time understanding my clients. I am currently searching for a partner-I had underestimated the real value of a partner in business- who will help steer my vision to a much higher level than what I can achieve as an individual,” says Molly.
Start working on what you love and listen to your gut, no matter how insane it sounds. Be honest with your clients. Create relationships and do follow-ups past the product delivery stage. In turn, the clients trust you and will gladly refer others to your services. And never under deliver.