For Lucy Wanjiku Kinyanjui, launching a business empire in the US translated to offering business opportunities to local traders back in Kenya.
Her venture not only put Kenyan products on the map but also generated income for her countrymates with tailors benefiting the most as they earn up to Ksh200,000 per month.
Laying the FoundationLucy Wanjiku Kinyanjui, the proprietor Lukinya International in Kent, USYouTube
Kinyanjui, who hails from Gatundu, owns Lukinya International based in Kent, Washington. The company runs a fashion store, supplies food commodities and sells beauty and therapy products for the last eight years.
Speaking to Kenya Diaspora Media in the US, the entrepreneur stated that she ventured into the business by exporting products from America to sell in Kenya. However, she was struck by the idea that she would generate more income vice versa as the demand for African attire and other products was high.
The greatest challenge she initially faced was the mass production of locally produced clothes. Kenyan tailors, she said, are used to sewing one attire for a customer as per measurements and deadlines issued. However, the ingredients were ready as Kenya has cotton, leather and all other fabrics that she required.
"I knew that Kenyans are really gifted and capable of anything. I wondered why we couldn't bring Kenya to the US. It is difficult to introduce a new product in the US, especially those from Africa.
"Kenyan tailors come up with exceptional designs but lack market. I started slowly by slowly, collecting fabric and clothes but sizing was the biggest hurdle as most Kenyan tailors work on a single project. It took me a long time to teach two to make clothes without measuring people," she recalled.
The joy in it, according to Kinyanjui, was seeing the tailors earn over Ksh200,000 per month as compared to before where they could go home empty-handed.
"That was my way of empowering women and youth," she added, saying that the products were well received in the US market.
Growth and Expansion
Six years later, Kinyanjui opened a grocery store from the income generated at the fashion store. She picked the idea from the necessity to carry food back to the US whenever she visits her Kenyan home.
The US-based trader explored ways she would import food and was not fazed by the strict laws and regulations. Before one imports food to the US, she said, one has to be cleared by the government with some processes dragging for long.
Kinyanjui imported groceries and cereals which were purchased at a high rate. In 2020, she sold a full container within a month, out of four she had imported.
"I supplied food in the US during the Covid-19 pandemic and was lucky that I had imported in bulk as we are all aware that all sectors were plunged into a crisis," the trader stated.Lukinya International in Kent, USYouTube
Her Biggest Achievement
Kinyanjui was excited by the fact that she managed to venture into beauty and therapy through the importation of Moringa Oleifera. The plant has been praised for its reported health benefits for thousands of years.
"I love superfoods. With the Covid-19, we have been selling Moringa and I decided to have its powder formulated into a beauty product for men and women. My customers love it," she said.
"The market is available. We all have to do our research. Within the next two years, I should be able to supply African prints to other stores in the US. We shall be creating more opportunities for our women, youth and children back in Kenya," Kinyanjui shared her plans.Kenya made clothes on sale at Lukinya International in Kent, USYouTube
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