Turning passion into profit: My promising jewelry venture

Turning passion into profit: My promising jewelry venture

HHFL’s Mercy Kangsy wrote this story. She just recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from Strathmore University in Kenya. Following her graduation, she accepted a full-time position as Faculty Assistant at her business school. Last year, she launched her own bracelet business to help support her and her sibling’s schooling. Mercy is the eldest of five children who became orphaned in 2005 and lived on the streets. Hanne and Ted rescued all five children in 2006 and educated them. They were HHFL’s first children.


It was once said that ‘the job of an artist is to make a sanctuary of beauty to an ugly world’. I once thought that the word ‘artist’ only referred to people who draw or paint but with time came to realize that I had gotten it all wrong. The true definition of an artist, which I think is pretty simple, is a person whose work reflects exceptional creative ability or skill. That said, I can proudly say that I’m an artist. My aim is to beautify the world and here’s why:

I love African fabric; whether used on clothing, jewelry or any other ornament, it would blow me away. My mum used to be an extremely talented home-based tailor and people would flock to our home with different fabrics that she would use to make clothing designs.

Being the last born girl at the time, and probably the most trusted, she would let me manage the orders and keep track of which materials (fabric) were occasionally brought in. She would teach me how to cut, measure and design each fabric and would also take me through the dress-making steps. I paid much attention to her description of the types of African (Kitenge) fabrics but not so much on the tailoring because I was captivated by their uniqueness. The captivation still stands to date.

Over the years, I’ve developed more interest in African jewelry; the bracelets to be specific. There is a wide range of locally made bracelets but my specialty is the Kitenge bracelet; one coated by unique African fabrics.

Introducing Kitenge Bracelets by Kangsy!
In October 2014, the last semester of my 2nd year at Strathmore University, I discovered Pinterest. I was only interested in knowing more about African fabric and it’s there that I found my inspiration for making Kitenge bracelets.

I created a Do It Yourself folder on my computer and filled it with creative mini-projects that I would work on during my free time. School was a huge workload so it took me a little longer to finally sit and work on my DIY’s.

I bought the materials and made my first bracelets. The finished product was amazing, colorful, neat and simply jaw-dropping! My initial plan was to use these bracelets for my own needs but once my roommates saw them, they wanted some. Now, you know how in college you’re supposed to operate on a budget and the word ‘broke’ becomes your middle name. This was going to be a breakthrough for me! A ‘side hustle’ that will earn me extra cash for my upkeep? Who wouldn’t want that?! I sold few to them, word quickly spread out and in no time I had several orders to act on! This wasn’t my expectation at all and it puzzled me at first but eventually adjusted to turning my passion into profit!

I get so much joy in making these bracelets! There is a certain serene feeling that comes with engaging in something you love doing. It’s by doing this that I get to relieve whatever stress that I may be experiencing. When I’m thinking of a way to wind up my day, this comes among the things I prefer doing. What makes it even more fulfilling and satisfying is the fact that people appreciate what I do; order after order, compliment after compliment! This gives me strength to keep doing it, better and bigger! It also makes me feel that my special art is indeed creating a sanctuary of beauty in someone’s world.

How HHFL has enhanced my creativity
Hanne Howard Fund Lenana (HHFL) has been my wonderful home for 10 years now. I call it a “hive of creativity” because it equipped me with important skills that have helped me a lot. We always came “home” from school holiday to a well-organized holiday program full of activities for the month that would engage all the children. This program focused heavily on art forms i.e. drawing, painting, knitting, drama and music (I learnt to play the Flute here), acrobatics, among many others.

Each person is uniquely creative. It takes imagination and openness of the mind to discover the extent of the amount of creativity you possess. I think it also takes zeal to think beyond what you see and act upon it.

This reminds me of a statement I once heard:
“If you’re a teacher, a parent or simply an individual who is trying to bring out the creative side of a child, for example in an art platform…give the child a blank paper and tell him/her to draw what they are imagining. Don’t draw something and tell them to copy. That would be depriving them of imagination. Once they’ve put down a sketch, ask them to describe it. Put forward leading questions that will make them imagine further beyond what they’ve already put down.”

HHFL has nurtured a number of us and given us a platform to create. The pieces we create today have led us to start small businesses that contribute a lot to our personal progress.

Other beneficiaries who are now notable masters of art are James Okwemba (artist), Steve Muasya (artist), Peter Maina (artist), John Mutahi (artist and designer who co-founded Morphed, an art & design business). Please check out John’s Facebook page! Believe me when I say that his pieces will leave you yearning for more!

More about my Kitenge bracelets:
• Like my Facebook Page and view my collection of Kitenge bracelets
• One bracelet goes for KES. 100 but different rates if sold outside Kenya
• Price discounts are considered during bulk purchases
• To get to me directly, please contact me on +254 (0)736500559. Email: mkangsy@gmail.com
• I don’t have a physical store yet. Deliveries are made to the CBD, Nairobi and any other place convenient to the customer

Thank you for passing by! Go discover what your art is and make a sanctuary of beauty in a seemingly ugly part of someone life!

You know you can, right?




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