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Meet Cici, a photographer with an eye for interior design

 Grace Silole Karasha, also known as Cici to a few close friends is a photographer, an online expert at one of the leading parastatals in the country as well as an entrepreneur. She is a petite 26-year-old who believes in pushing herself to her full potential.

Hers is a tale of balancing three professions, starting her own biashara at 22 and sticking it out to date, finding a fundi who breaks the ‘kujia kesho’ procrastination mould all while thriving and learning along the way.

Fresh from a photography residency with The Alchemist, Cici is energised and ready to push her company, New Space Kenya to new heights.

“I love creating beautiful spaces. I enjoy seeing people enjoy the spaces they live in. That is why I formed New Space, close to four years ago. I started by making throw pillows and then gradually incorporated interior design consultancy services into the business,” the Daystar graduate of commerce explains.

Cici has always been interested in interior design. She believes that spaces can tell stories. Just from looking at a room, one can easily gauge the personality and character of the person who inhabits. Her job is to ensure that these spaces match her clients personality. She create rooms that speak emotion, mind state and character.

Just like with any other entrepreneurial journey, Cici has faced her fair share of challenges, chief among them being coming up with a reliable team as well as sourcing for fabric.

Fabrics are overpriced in Kenya. Getting good fabrics and finding a reliable source who was also willing to charge a reasonable price was one thing that Cici had to learn on the job. She also had to get a reliable fundi who would meet deadlines without fail. Something that was harder to do than she initially thought possible.

“Turns out that fundis play those ‘kujia kesho’ games with everyone; whether your business is at stake or not, the promise of repeat business be darned.”

As to what keeps her going despite the ups and downs, Cici cites purpose as the main reason why.

‘I appreciate the fact that I impact the people I interact with both in my day job and my side hustles, be it in a small or big way. I am really passionate. I also immensely enjoy what I do. With that passion, I can keep forging forward no matter what life throws my way,’ she explains.

The fact that people appreciate her work is also a welcome boon.

‘It is quite humbling when someone who I have never interacted with walks up to me and tells me they love what I am doing. This makes weathering all the storms worthwhile.’

Planning is the one skill that Cici values above all else. It is what enables her juggle three hustles without burning out or doing any of them halfheartedly or shoddily. She believes in allocating time to not just the tasks that need to be done but to her personal life as well.

It also helps that her hustles are interlinked. She has used her online and social media experience to create a media presence for New Space Kenya on Facebook and Instagram.

She frequently updates which markets she will be attending and how and where to find her on social media. Her love for aesthetics, which pushed her to start New Space is also what spurred her on to learn photography. She is especially fond of taking portraits.

To those looking to embark on their side hustles, the road is tough but the beauty is to be found in exactly that.

‘Start. Start from where you are, do not sit and wait. Always be ready to face the challenges that come along your way. And they will come along. But do not focus too much on the challenges; sometimes, remember to also celebrate your small wins. Enjoy the journey,’ Cici advises.

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