Lucy Wanjeri Njuguna is following in the footsteps of Nigerian interior designer, Ola Banke by making furniture out of old tyres. She dabbled in many things before deciding to throw her dice into the recycling ring
Lucy Wanjeri Njuguna is accustomed to taking risks, an indispensable attribute for anyone who wants to go into business. So last year, she made the bold decision to quit a well-paying job in a leading mobile service provider to pursue self-employment as an artist repurposing used vehicle tyres into beautiful furniture. Friends and family were shocked at the fact that she took this big, life-changing leap.
Her journey in life started immediately after school when she joined Winton House of Music for a music course. She later got a teaching job at Oshwal Academy in Parklands as a music teacher for one year before she decided to pursue a career in singing.
“I started singing in studios and recording music. I then joined Harry Kimani’s Band as a back-up vocalist,” she explains. Things didn’t work out well for her at the band and she later quit to start selling mitumba clothes at Gikomba market until 2013 when she got a job as a sales consultant for a leading mobile service provider.
She was posted to work in Nanyuki and it was during her four-year stay in the town that she came across a video on You-Tube that changed her thinking forever. “I came across a video in which a guy was recycling old tyres into beautiful and comfortable furniture, something that got me interested.
I loved arts since my primary school days so when I saw this, I was glued,” she says. She decided to try out by first making one for herself. “Using borrowed tools from a friend, I made my first table that I put into my living room. I got encouraged when friends visited my home and admired the table and asked me to make similar ones for them,” she adds.
Her first business came from close friends and through networks from close circles, she got more and more orders, something which made her decide not to renew her contract with her employer when it expired last year. She started the business with Sh3,000 and makes at least Sh84,000 a month as profit.
Due to challenges in Nanyuki, Lucy decided to shift base to Maziwa area in Kahawa West. Lucy is inspired by Ola Banke, a Nigerian woman making similar furniture and prays that one day, she will hit it big in the industry just as Banke has in Nigeria.
“Since November last year, I have been doing this job and I can assure you that there is no turning back. The prospects are good and it is my dream that I will grow the business into a big company with branches across major towns,” she says.
Lucy reckons that even though the business is doing well, financial constraints and connecting to potential clients have been her greatest challenges. “Some of the materials we use are expensive, especially if one is buying in small quantities.
This restricts me to small profit margins as I only sell products according to the current market rates,” she says. She also admits that her work at times faces sterotyping as some view it as a man’s job and won’t come to terms with the fact that a woman can do quality job.
Lucy advises the youth to think outside the box. “Opportunities are all over the place only if you look for them and exploit every chance that comes your way. What kills our dreams is the fear of the unknown, but let me assure you that fear is an invaluable tool.
Fear does one of two things, it will either stop you or fuel you into doing something. Rather than giving fear the power to paralyse you and bring your dreams to a halt, embrace it and use it to propel you into action,” she says.