Knick knacks is an online business that deals with handmade crafts owned by Kevin Muoka. Kevin is a great of example of an entrepreneur who is not only able to get income from his business, but also benefit the society in return by providing a website that enables vendors to market and sell their handmade crafts. It’s a common assumption that handmade crafts are costly but a look at the knick knacks website clearly shows us how affordable they are. We had an opportunity to interview Kevin who has an entrepreneurial spirit and has proven results. Here is what we learnt from him
STRATIZEN: How do you best describeyourself?
KEVIN: I am driven to deliver on my commitments
S: How did you get the idea of your business Knick Knacks?
K: I was inspired by a case study that was featured in an entrepreneurship course called edX offered free online by Harvard University where they reviewed Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma and his early days of launching his online business in China where eBay was already established. He basically focused on mobilizing communities to professionally trade from their ‘Taobao’ villages and deliver to a global market. Knick-Knacks is founded on the same principle of community empowerment.
S: What was your mission when you started your business and how did you start your business?
K: My mission was to develop a platform that caters for the discerning shopper who is looking for a niche/ unique kind of product. This drove me to focus on Quality, locally available handmade products.
I sold the idea to an old friend who I knew had started an online business before and with his technical expertise coupled with my marketing background, we had what it takes to get started. We partnered and officially started working on this project in June 2017
S: How do you make your money?
K: Our commission on each product sold via our platform is 20%
S: How many employees do you have as per now and what do they do?
K: We are currently a team of 8 with responsibilities broken down as follows;-
I. Photo editors/ Logistics Managers – 2 pax
II. Description editors/ Customer Care/ Account Managers – 2 pax
III. Accountant/ Asset and Admin Manager – 1 pax
IV. Web developer – 1 pax
V. Digital Marketing Assistant/ Photographer – 1 pax
S: What sacrifices did you have to make to create your business?
K: Having being employed for the last 18 years, the switch from a salaried comfort zone was a major transformation. It has largely been a financial cut back not just for me but also for my family.
S: What are the products and services of your business?
K: Knick-Knacks seeks to develop a unique e-commerce platform in Kenya aimed at bringing together local buyers and sellers of QUALITY locally available HANDMADE products within the 6 categories listed below i.e.
1. Home & Decor
2. Outdoor & Garden
3. Handmade for HER
4. Handmade for HIM
5. Handmade for Kids
6. Sculptures & Carvings
7. Made from Kanga Fabric
S: How do you advertise your business?
K: We advertise through digital platforms i.e. largely Facebook and Instagram. We do however plan to get more interviews in magazines like this one as well as produce documentaries to tell the inspiring stories of the people behind the products we stock.
S: How can you describe your normal day at work?
K: Our day starts with a confirmation of the orders placed the previous night, we then start the process of collecting them from the vendors so as to quality check and start the delivery logistics to the customer.
As we are in the early stages of the business, we are continuously onboarding new vendors and products, which involves photography, description editing, photo editing and uploading.
I manage all the processes as well as the administrative responsibilities i.e. financial, HR and regulatory.
S: What is your current business location and what made you choose it?
K: We are based along Loiyangalani Drive in Lavington, Nairobi. Since we experience very little face-to-face customer interaction, we needed a location that offers a serene work environment that can amply accommodate us all.
S: What makes your business stand out?
K: We are proud to have achieved the following;-
● We currently have the largest collection of quality handmade products on one platform in the region. We have over 2,300 products on www.knick-knacks.shop
● We have the widest range of products.
● We are the first to offer Plants on an online platform in Kenya.
S: What inspires you to get up every morning to go to work every day?
K: Having personally recruited all our partners, I have interacted with their craftsmen (this of course includes Women) and seen first hand the positive impact the industry has in our community. I am driven to offer more opportunities for them as we better our society.
S: Have you ever turned down any client and for what reason?
K: I have not turned down a client yet. I have however turned down potential vendors due to either their compromised quality or unprofessionalism.
S: If you have advice to anyone starting his or her business, what would it be?
K: My advise to anyone looking to venture into any business is that you need to be passionate about what you do. It can’t be said enough; if you are driven by money, your venture is not sustainable. That said, there are a few people who are passionate about money☺. Very few succeed.
S: What is the biggest business mistake you have ever made and how did you deal with it?
K: I recently discovered that my partnership with my fellow founder was not a match made in heaven due to some misunderstandings. We decided to amicably part ways and are still good friends. This however was a huge set back that the business has just recently started recovering from.
My advise to anyone going into a partnership business is to first assess whether the relationship can withstand major set backs and differences, and secondly, to be completely transparent about the terms that are usually driven by investment.
S: Who is your inspiration?
K: People who chart new paths and redefine the norm inspire me. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Hugh Hefner (Yes, HH is quite inspiring in that he played a very critical role in shaping USA as we know it today)
S: What is your favorite pass time activity?
K: I enjoy the outdoors and spend a lot of time outdoors (camping, cycling and countryside excursions). I am an avid rugby fan having being a player in the past. I also have a deep love for travelling.
S: What is your favorite book?
K: BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY
S: If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
K: ‘Positive Attitude, The Master Key to Success’
S: One piece of advice to the youth?
K: Patience pays. Rome was not built in a day. It takes time to gain enough experience to be an authority in your field of expertise/ choice. Ride the waves, make mistakes and learn from your mistakes, these will only favor your future.
Check out Kevin’s business on: www.knick-knacks.shop
By Ivanarita Aburuli