- From the nondescript workshop, she produces extraordinary jewelry that has become the favorite accessories of many of her local and foreign customers.
- When the business started, she joined a local craftsman who trained her in the art of jewelry making.
- If she wanted to succeed, she reasoned, she had to hone her skills, and her family’s hotel provided the perfect training ground.
As far as Lucille Nyikuri can remember, she has always been in love with art. As a child, she marveled at the beauty of the jewelry her mother made for export. From simple materials, impressive pieces of clothing were born that brought in a nice sum of money for his family.
“I grew up seeing all this beautiful African art that captured my soul,” Ms. Nyikuri says.
Growing up and nurturing other interests, her one true love has always been art. Even when she was admitted and became a barrister in the High Court, her passion did not give up. If anything, he seemed to be growing.
For a time, she had noticed a gap in the market for well-crafted African jewelry. Demand was high, but few jewelers were making exceptional pieces.
So she founded Lukagwa African Art & Jewelers, a company that assembles recycled beads into wearable works of art such as bracelets, necklaces, hair accessories and earrings.
When she’s not dealing with legal issues, she’s tucked away in her small workshop in Nairobi’s South B, creating and marketing handcrafted African jewelry.
From the nondescript workshop, she produces extraordinary jewelry that has become the favorite accessories of many of her local and foreign customers.
Ms. Nyikuri may have grown up around jewelry, but she had to hone her skills.
When the business started, she joined a local craftsman who trained her in the art of jewelry making.
“I took a keen interest and learned about the materials, the ways of making jewelry and the historical significance of this art.”
His journey was not complete without learning how to run a business. She had seen several talented artist companies take flight only to collapse because they lacked business skills.
If she wanted to succeed, she reasoned, she had to hone her skills, and her family’s hotel provided the perfect training ground.
“I learned how to deal with people and run a business. I made my first attempt at setting up a jewelry business in 2006,” says the University of Nairobi graduate.
She has also put the entrepreneurial skills she learned in a degree course at the United States International University in Africa to good use in her business.
She says she invested 20,000 shillings in the business which she bought from friends as well as her own savings.
With the capital, she buys tools, beads, threads and threads to enable her to start in jewelry.
Initially, she sold the pieces to friends and her mother’s co-workers by word of mouth. This helped grow his network through referrals.
“I found myself invited to exhibitions at embassies and shopping malls.”
The jewelry-making process begins in her workshop when materials arrive from suppliers, mostly women, a decision she consciously made to empower young women.
The recycled materials are then sorted, washed and melted down to be transformed into various jewelry beads, she explains.
“We use locally made beads from cow horn, cow bone, Maasai, brass, Kitengela glass, coconut and trade beads from West Africa.
“We do casting, yarn art, beading and braiding to come up with the final product,” says Ms. Nyikuri.
Jewelry prices range from Sh4,546.08 ($40) to Sh10,228.7 ($90), targeting middle-class women and men in Kenya and around the world.
“(We are targeting) middle-class women over 35 and men over 40. On the foreign market, it is mainly women over 50 years old.
To increase the visibility of her business, she also runs an online store on Etsy which mainly targets the overseas market. She also relies on social media platforms to attract more customers.
In order to bring traction to the online store and establish a market base overseas, she participated in exhibitions in New York from 2015 to 2017.
“I also participated in different exhibitions-competitions which exposed me to famous artists, in particular Sekou Ra, who taught him how to work with silver.”
“The idea was not only to create exposure for the Lukagwa brand, but also to market Kenya,
“Our exhibition space was the expression of our creativity and our culture. Each item has been handcrafted to tell the African and Kenyan story. She says.
The company employs three people directly and indirectly supports 10 others in the areas of production, distribution, marketing and sales.
She is proud to have accessorized “Muthoni the Drummer Queen” when she was performing at one of the state’s national events.