After learning from YouTube how to make shoes using yarn, Valerie Lambisia has turned a hobby into a thriving business in just three years
Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra
Valarie Lambisia displays her shoes carefully and orders for more from her sources in Nairobi. She begins to assemble her work tools as she waits for more yarn to be brought in. Bringing back the ‘90s way of wearing crochet shoes not only excites her, but also works best for her.
For the past few years, Crochet Hub has proven to be a place to call home; a place she has learnt to respect and create time with. Although she started it as a hobby, it has put food on her table over time.
Growing up in Kakamega, Lambisia used to watch her mother knit and crochet clothes and shoes for her siblings. She then took time to learn the ropes.
“Growing up in the rural area was hard; any time we would go to the market, we wouldn’t get baby clothes. So, my mother opted to knit and crochet clothes instead of buying them,” she says.
Learnt from YouTube
Lambisia, an English teacher at Mbita High School in Homa Bay, decided to learn how to crochet shoes to make a few coins out of it. She began by watching clips on YouTube and a lot of trial and error.
She later on saw that crochet shoes with no sole were quite common and decided to try something that would last. The fact that most crochet shoes were made for children gave her an idea of making shoes out of yarn.
“I discovered that the shoe I was making was quite common, especially within our locality. So I looked for gaps and decided to try making them with a sole. Any time I made shoes for kids, parents would also fancy them, so I decided to satisfy both ages,” she adds.
With the progress, she discovered that acquiring enough capital on her own would make her struggle financially. She, therefore, decided to look for a cheap way of getting adequate raw products.
Lambisia says that, at first, she had to buy the soles in bulk from Bata, but as time went by, the supply wasn’t constant. She decided purchase them from Gikomba as it a very simple way of getting good soles, on which to fix the crocheted part as per her customers choice.
“Getting soles in bulk to customise is a bit difficult, so I opted to buy shoes and rip them off from their soles and later on customise them to fit my clients taste,” says Lambisia.
Her products cost between Sh500 and Sh3,000, depending on the size of the shoes. For the last two years, Lambisia has been able to employ five women and has used social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp to get clients.
“I advertise on Facebook, where I get a lot of clients since I have no other option as I am based in Mbita. The most difficult thing Lambisia has had to deal with is that a huge part of her target market is in Nairobi, so she spends a lot on travel.
At the moment Crotchet Hub is worth Sh750,000, an amount she believes she wouldn’t have gotten without her loyal clients, friends and family.
“I am glad that I have gotten here in just three years, despite going through a lot of challenges with my business,” she concludes.