Why I started an art business in my mother’s balcony
When Linus Omondi Ogola completed his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) last year, he was optimistic that despite the struggles his family was going through he would get a chance to go to university.
To support his mother in raising some funds to enable him pursue higher education, the 23-year-old man decided to start a business of making candles and candle holders. He also makes wristbands and does abstract painting.
During a visit to his home in Kibra, we find him in a buggy jacket covered with paint. He looks exhausted.
“I was up by 2 a.m sketching my artwork and doing other things,” he explained. Ogola lives in a single room, which he shares with his mother and sisters. The balcony of their home, which is the size of a small corridor, serves as his art shop. At the same time it’s used as a laundry area for washing and hanging clothes. To further utilise the small space, they also use it to grow crops in plastic containers. On the opposite side of the entrance of the balcony a small cupboard stands. He has placed different colours of finished candles and candle holders on it.
Ogola, however, admitted that when he started the business, his initial idea was to keep himself busy and make some pocket money.
“I started drawing artwork and sketches for fun. But as time went by, my hobby became my passion and I decided to advertise it as my brand. I loved art and decided to do it full time,” he said. Capital has always been a concern to many upcoming business entrepreneurs, but with the help of a friend who gifted him with Sh7,000, Ogola was able to set up his work. The money was to be used to buy the requirements he needed for his work, which included art papers ,frames, grade pencils, board, spray paints, rubber, eraser, cement, wax, crayons, metallic bowl for heating the wax and tumblers for shaping the candles.
He sells his products depending on the size. The smaller candle costs Sh50 while the bigger ones goes for Sh150. The cost of his artwork depends on the cost of materials used since they are expensive. A multi-coloured painting costs 3,500.He sells his work to friends ,neighbours, families and anyone who might be interested in his work. He makes an average of Sh3,000 in a month but hopes to increase his profit in future.
Some of the money he gets is used to buy more supplies. He saves the rest for university studies where he hopes to pursue a course in counseling psychology.
“There are a lot benefits from this job. This work has been a place where I relieve my stress as it keeps me busy and focused on what I am doing. It has also made me to explore deeper into my work and coming up with better products for my brand,” he said. He is also helping his mother supplement the family’s income. One of the challenges that Ogola has encountered in his work is constant blackouts in the area. “I use coils, which operate using electricity and it is really difficult to do my work when there is a blackout. Another challenge is when the wax I use runs out and my suppliers run out stock,” he said. Ogola has many plans for the future. He wants to expand his work by having his own shop and also plans to teach art to street families and help them make a living from it.