Journalist with an eye for design
Elizabeth Wabugo fondly referred to as Bessy Bugo by her customers has made a name in the world of business .
Bessy trained as TV producer but said her passion was making African jewellery.
She is among top 10 jewellery and accessories designers in the country, and has been in the business for the last four years.
She is the designer behind jewellery worn by jazz musician Joseph Hellon’s band, Tusker Project Fame 5 winner Ruth Matete, Sefu Sanni, Nikita Mitche and Citizen TV’s Kirigo Ng’arua.
Her company Bessy Bugo Jewellery also sells accessories to young people especially those looking for wedding items.
Bessy runs her business from her house but the fame and type of clients she has made have kept her busy.
She gets customers from all over the city mostly through referrals.
“I am always on the phone. That is what keeps me moving. On some occasions, I deliver the products to customers myself,” she added.
Bessy got into the business though not as a career but more like a hobby.
“It was after completing my university education, got a baby that I realised that I needed a job.
“My friends would call me once in a while and request me to design some jewellery or do some modifications to the ones they had. In 2011, I decided to look at the whole thing in a more serious way,” she said.
Soon after, she started receiving calls from people who wanted custom-made accessories.
“I took the burden of following up on every customer I received by making the best designs. I called them regularly and it was not long before they started connecting me to their families and friends,” she added.
Her business picked up when she started designing for musicians and later got contacts of some prominent TV anchors. She makes her necklaces, ear rings, bangles from old brass, silver, horn, leather, beads, bone and recycled glass.
“I have identified people in slums who sell me materials. I also get beads from Maasai Market,” she said.
She sells her jewellery at between Sh200 and Sh2,000 depending on the design and material.
Ear rings go for Sh300, bracelets Sh600, necklaces vary from Sh800 to Sh1,500, while sandals go for Sh1,700.
The designer has four clients who buy her products in bulk every month and about 50 who buy in smaller quantities but regularly.
She has also started training some of her friends who are getting interested in what she does.