Meet Founder of MaryBee Interiors: I started my business with my grandmother’s sewing machine

May 29, 2023

Mary Wambua is an interior designer and the brains behind MaryBee Interiors, which specializes in fabrics and produces Kenyan-made items such as baby nests, table mats and runners, curtains and sheers, throw pillows and more.

Briefly introduce yourself.

I’m the first born in a family of three, born and raised in Kitui county. I’m also the founder and owner of MaryBee Interiors.

You make quite unique and beautiful interior products, where did you gain the skills from?

My sewing skills are inborn because all the products that I stock I personally make them and interestingly no one taught me how to do them. I’m a very creative fabric designer. My grandma was a seamstress; when I started this venture the machine that I used in sewing was the one my grandmother used. However, I have advanced into a modern machine. The decors I do no one taught me. I never stepped into any sewing/tailoring class.

What drove you into making home interior products?

What drove me is my passion for wanting something that I could do with my hands. I remember when I was in Standard 8, I sewed this particular tissue holder that up to date is being used in my parents’ house. Personally, I’m a creative fabric being.

What are some of the products you make?

MaryBee Interiors specialises in everything fabric but we don’t sew clothes. My major products are Kenyan-made baby nests, table mats and runners, pet beds, curtains and sheers, throw pillows, tissue holders, safari hats, sun hats and hoodies.

Where is your workshop located?

We are based at Jericho market in Makadara constituency, Nairobi.

Do you make these products all alone?

Yes I do this work alone. However, I sometimes get huge orders that I end up sourcing for tailors. I don’t have a permanent person in my workshop.

Who are some of the major clients you have worked for so far?

I can say that my major clients are middle-class citizens. Table mats and runners can only be afforded/bought by someone who owns a dining table, same as a pet bed can only be bought by pet lovers. You don’t expect someone from a low-income level to buy a pet. I’m glad I have served at least some diaspora countries like Finland, US, Austria, Germany, UK and just the other day I sent my products to Uganda.

How much do you make in a good month?

I will not mention what I earn but I can say it’s a good business and that you can’t sleep hungry. Imagine getting one huge order that equalises a two months profit. Not all months are the same but at least every month I get something.

What are some of the challenges you go through?

The major challenge that we face is that we are purely online thus outside Nairobi clients will not trust you enough to send their money before delivery thus we end up losing a potential client. Another challenge that we face is that you send a parcel to a far client, they say they will pay on delivery and upon receiving their package they end up blocking you without paying.

What keeps you going despite these challenges?

The fact that I want to grow my business to a big brand. There’s no business without challenges and so we have to keep on pushing.

Your parting shot?

In business, one has to be patient to see the results. It doesn’t matter the kind of business one is in.

Courtesy: CityBiz/The Nairobian

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