Meet Sangya Gyawali, founder of Blooh, a social enterprise that works with artisans in Kenya to promote quality, innovation, fairness, and environmental stewardship. Sangya is an alumna of Aid to Artisans’ eMarket Readiness Program, and is an inspiring entrepreneur with a vision. Read below to learn about her work, Blooh’s mission and experience at our eMarket Readiness Program!
Tell me about your company and how you work with artisans?
Blooh is a social enterprise that works with independent artisans to create modern ethical jewelry that ranges from minimal to soft statement pieces. We are a tech-enabled company that uses supply chain innovation to organize materials and resources within our workforce. Our work is grounded in 4 pillars, environmental stewardship, fairness, innovation, and good design. Ultimately, we believe that you don’t have to compromise style to advocate for your values. Currently, we work with over 60 artisans in Nairobi and aim to reach 300 artisans within the next year.
How did your business start, and how has it evolved during the pandemic?
We launched online right at the beginning of 2021, which wasn’t ideal with markets being shut down and limited budgets. So, we focused on getting to know our artisans on the ground and laying the foundation for a healthy supply chain that is well trained but didn’t overcommit. The goal was to provide consistent work to the artisans we brought on, and we’re fortunate to have been able to do that during this time.
You attended the eMRP in August 2020. What was your absolute biggest challenge prior to attending the eMRP?
That was the period of initial research, so I was just trying to figure out how to get started. I wanted to learn best practices like pricing and branding from people who had already done it successfully before. I also didn’t have any contacts within the industry. Coupled together, these challenges made the process of getting started very daunting.
How did that challenge make you feel?
When launching any venture, there’s a lot of overwhelm, and the pandemic added a whole new dimension to that feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was the right time to follow through with the idea.
What changed after attending the eMRP?
Having a program like the eMRP felt like being guided by a lighthouse. The cohort made me feel less alone in the journey and gave me the confidence and the contacts I needed to just get started. That was the biggest step.
What specific results can you share?
Since the program, we launched online! We identified and trained our artisan partners during the first half of the year and launched our own designs during the 2nd half. We now have a couple of best sellers and have been building a lot of great brand sentiment from our customers. We’re on track to do 250-300 sales by the end of the year.
What would you say to someone on the fence about joining the eMRP?
The program really pays for itself, especially if you’re coming in like me with very little knowledge about the industry. For anyone on the fence, just go for it! The learnings are very actionable, and the people you meet are the key to not reinventing the wheel.
How has your work/business grown since attending the eMRP?
In less than a year, we’ve significantly improved our product quality by doing interactive focus groups, expanded our support to over 60 artisans in Nairobi, and have paying customers who are eager to buy from us again. We’ve been laser focused on getting the best products out to market that pay fair wages and hold the standards we set for ourselves. Last month we expanded into gold-plated jewelry and launched our wholesale program.
What is your vision for your business and the future?
My aim for Blooh is reach beyond the marketplace by creating an ecosystem of networks and technologies that can power the creative handmade sector in the long run. I feel excited about the potential; we’re just getting started!
Check out Blooh’s website, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
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