The football season kicks off this weekend with the English Premier League (EPL) which has a huge following in Kenya.
Fashion entrepreneurs have been keen to cash in on this hype by selling sportswear such as branded jerseys and jackets from the world’s various football clubs.
33-year-old Zack Muchiri has been in this business for the last twelve years.
The mass communication graduate says that his passion for football drove him to sports merchandise branding.
He’d been employed for three years at a branding shop where he learned the ropes before quitting to start his own.
“I began as a broker marketing branded sports items online for other entrepreneurs before setting up my own shop in town,” he says.
social media influencer
His business, Jersey Kit Kenya, is located along Moi Avenue in Nairobi.
Muchiri’s encounter with celebrities has made him very cautious and he rarely kits them as part of business marketing.
“Most of them (celebrities) are too entitled and believe they can have free merchandise owing to their status.”
This is with the exception of gospel artiste Moji Shortbabaa whom he considers humble. He’s also his own social media influencer for his business.
And speaking of people with attitude, this is not restricted to celebrities but to other customers in general with some insulting him at his workplace or ordering kits and failing to pay.
“There are customers who’ll breathe life in your business while others are difficult to handle.
"How you deal with the latter can make or break your business if any reviews in a negative light are anything to go by,” he says.
All branded sportswear such as t-shirts, hoodies, and jerseys are done according to customer preferences.
Muchiri says that it would be unwise to brand merchandise without orders as it may lead to losses.
The most popular sports merchandise is from European football giants such as Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
His target customers ranges from the ages of 18 and 40 years.
“Most people in this demographic are sports enthusiasts who know more about European leagues than the local ones,” he says.
The demand for sports merchandise for the local football league, he regrets, is quite low.
competition is stiff
A branded jersey at his shop sells for Sh1,300. Jackets retail at Sh3,000 while pants go for Sh2,000 and hoodies for Sh2,500.
He has one employee on a permanent basis.
Muchiri puts emphasis on marketing to grow business as the competition is quite stiff.
He relies on customer referrals to drive sales and apart from using an influencer, he also aggressively markets the business on social media.
One of the worst business decisions he regrets making is once buying a large stock without considering the sizes or quantities as the products were fashionable at the time.
“I ended up making a huge loss. Because a particular kit was fashionable in the market at the time I thought I’d make a killing and branded all sizes and ended with dead stock.
"Had I gone with customer demand instead of following on a trend, it would have made a difference,” he says.
Muchiri reinvests profits in the business as he aims to scale it and envisions it growing so he can diversify his product offerings to also include sports equipment.