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From tyres to bespoke decor

Leiler Sayida and her partners are taking old wheels and turning them into furniture. They also empower women in the community

Zeal and interest is a motivator when it comes to starting a new business, especially in the recycling industry. For Leiler Sayida, her desire to explore her talent in interior and exterior decor, ultimately pushed her into the recycling world.  Her resume is impressive and one would wonder why she did not choose a career as a corporate highflyer. Leiler  grew up in Umoja estate in Nairobi and after high school in 2009, she went on to Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) to pursue a degree in ICT.  Afterwards she did a Masters Degree in Project Management and in 2014 she interned at the Ministry of Information and at the Supreme Court.

The following year, she worked at Horizons Contact Centre and after a year she joined the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the human resource department. She was also a part-time lecturer at Jkuat.  However, after a missed opportunity to work at a local firm, Leila threw in the towel on employment and went into self-employment. Towards the end of 2017, SAJ100 Creations was born.  She used waste tyres to express her artistic side.

The idea of recycling tyres came about when her friend, Cynthia Gitonga, wanted to surprise her husband with something unique and that’s when Leila offered to make a tyre seat. “I didn’t know where to start. I quoted a price but ended up spending more money than I had intended to. However, her reaction to what I had created really motivated me,” she explains.

Her friend loved what she had made and referred her to more clients.SAJ100 Creations, which is a team of three, started the process by first collecting tyres from dealers. The tyres have to be in good conditions as worn out tyres could be dangerous. The tyres are then washed and air dried. A base is then applied before painting them.The most preferred is the spray paint, which goes for Sh400 in local stores.  Depending on the design and type of furniture, glass, wood, sisal, cushions and ankara or colourful materials may be used to make the tyre pop out. The process of creating a seat takes a few hours. This involves bolting together two same-sized tyres to give height to the furniture  and also depending on the client two to three wheels are mounted for mobility.

The process ends with them making cushions for the tyre using materials with different colours depending on the client’s specifications.

A tyre seat ranges from Sh3,500 to Sh5,000, depending on the tyre size.

SAJ100 targets clients who have an interest in unique decor and want to have something different in their spaces. The tyres work well  for people with back gardens. Corporates are also some of her clients.

The tyre business can be cumbersome and occupies lots of space and storage. As a result the company only works on orders to make their products. The business is usually not busy, but the profits are good and Leiler says she is happy with how people are embracing the idea. Apart from recycling tyres, Leiler works with other two team members, Monica Mwangi and Cecilia Wanza. SAJ has spread its tentacles by being an events organising company and they have also collaborated with M&M, an initiative for empowering women in the area by creating employment using the local resources.

They have mobilised the women to offer laundry services in the surrounding estates introduced mentorship, and table banking.

After producing her first batch of tyre furniture, many people started calling her and consulting with her on different ideas. She also hires out her furniture when there is an outdoor event or activity at a fee.

The tyre business has thrived from the support they got from  George Theuri, MP for Umoja, Mark Mugambi (MCA Umoja 1), Huduma Kitchen and East Furnitures.

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