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How Kimuyu carved out a living in wood

The love for nature and customised art has kept Mr Justus Kimuyu carving out a living for his family for 27 years.

He started off selling the uniquely designed artifacts to his customers at Maasai Market, City Market and a few more places.

For the long experience he has, the 43-year-old father of two has now perfected his handicraft and cannot satisfy the ever growing demand.

He started off with the two markets in Nairobi but soon he could not ignore the orders coming from Malindi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Machakos and his current work place in Majengo.

“One of the things that keep me going is the realisation that my designs are different from anything I have seen in the market. Most of my customers seem to have discovered this too and they appreciate the ever-evolving nature of my products.

“The other good thing is that they are based on nature and people love nature. Tourists don’t visit my shop, but I have local customers and they appreciate the African designs and pay well for them,”  said Mr Kimuyu.

He uses soft timber from Gikomba Market to design animal carvings, stools, house decorations and bowls of various shapes with which he supplies his over 20 regular customers’ weekly orders.

“My joy every morning comes from knowing I will turn some plain pieces of wood into  something beautiful, decorate it and make valuable products, which people will buy without needing to be persuaded,” Mr Kimuyu said.

His customer list keeps growing, owing to what he terms good service and good quality artifacts. He said he receives no fewer than five new customers a week.

“I give my customers excellent service when they visit my gallery and when they go back to their areas, they send more people to me,” said Mr Kimuyu.

Mr Kimuyu dropped out of school at Standard Six and started carving wood with the help of some old men at  Wamunyu in Machakos, where he was grew up.

Soon he realised he could sell the artifacts and make money. He never looked back and has since moved to the capital, where the market is wider and more rewarding.

“I don’t have  any academic qualifications, but I’m good at it as my customers say,” he said.

His only challenge, he said was that he wanted to advertise online, but he could barely follow the operations due to his limited reading ability.

“With the new technology, everybody is posting their products online and attracting customers, but I use word of mouth and make my work unique, which I know cannot work forever,”  he said.

He sells the artifacts at between Sh350 and Sh2,000, attracting a profit of  over Sh40,000 in a good month. He also trains some youths.