JACKLINE CHIRCHIR, 23, is not only a gifted designer, but also a public relations professional and a photographer. She spoke to ALLAN OLINGO about her passion to custom-make jewellery to suit her customers’ tastes
How did you start making jewellery?
I got a pair of earrings from a stall in Nairobi and did not like them. I later saw many other people in similar earrings and they looked nice, but an idea occurred to me. I thought instead of wearing exactly the same, I could modify mine to look unique and different from the rest. That is how I started. I customised them to suit my style and taste and they turned out very beautiful.
How did you modify them?
I removed the beads, changed the shape and the general outlook. If you compared the new-look earrings with the original, you wouldn’t believe they are the same jewellery.
How do you come up with these creative designs?
Some of them are just on impulse, while I create others from my imagination. I get inspiration from pieces of art where I play around with designs to create my own style. I don’t make my jewellery from scratch; I recycle a lot of things. I can pick a buckle from a belt, some shoestring or an old pair of earrings and modify them to create beautiful jewellery, often totally different from their original forms.
What prompted the business angle?
When my friends saw the first pair I had made, they liked it and asked me to make them similar ones. I designed each pair to suit the owner’s tastes. The more I made them, the more referrals I got. Another factor that made the business angle outstanding was that I did not duplicate designs. Each of the customised earrings, hand bands and necklaces have a unique identity, so when you buy it, you will be the only one with the particular design. I started selling them in campus and also made them as gift items.
Do you specialise in jewellery or do you also customise other items?
I also do handbags, clutch bags, shoes and clothing. I am also thinking of expanding into interior décor on things like poufs and pillowcases. I have realised people like homemade stuff and that’s why I want to make them using lesos, kitenges, khakis and other local materials. There is a niche and I will exploit it. If I add a touch of something African or any other design, it is certain to change the outlook of the house.
How do you customise shoes?