If you have lots of free time and are willing to make good use of your creative energy, the business idea of making and selling shaggy mats (or shaggy rugs) can be a good starting point.
Making these mats is not only a fun way to spend your time but also a great way to raise a decent and honest income.
You can start small today and gradually build a team and a brand for yourself so that you can handle bulk orders from clients.
You need some practical skills in order to put together a great final product. One good way to acquire these skills is by working with a mentor. Normally, the learning takes 1 to 5 days and the average charges range from Ksh.1,500 to Ksh.3,000 depending on whether you have your own tools or not.
For purposes of this article, I engaged with a trainer, Muthumbi Grace (0725834180) who trains potential shaggy mat makers in Kenya and East Africa.
Below is her story.
I started making shaggy mats for fun in 2009 after watching a friend doing it. I made my first two mats for my mother and mother-in-law for free. They got impressed and showed them to friends, who made first two orders and that’s how I started shaggy mats making business alongside my pastry chef job.
After I did the first two orders, I started receiving many orders that I could not deliver effectively. I trained a friend to help me with my orders so as not to disappoint my clients. Soon she learnt how to do it, she got her own orders and I had to let her go on her own.
Later I trained five other women, including my sister and immediately after, three of them got their own orders and left. I was remaining with only two people to help me with my orders.
I continued making mats, juggling with my catering job and raising my young family. Am a trained pastry chef. In 2012, I quit my catering job to concentrate on making mats. The number of orders was overwhelming; I continued training other women to work with.
Mid 2016, I decide to open a shaggy mats training school and the idea received a lot of support. I thought of empowering people outside my circles with my skills and make some income from it too. Initially I was only training people known to me and was not making much out of it.
However, after attending a training on social media marketing, I was able to market my training programmes using different social media channels.
I created a Facebook page “Shaggy Mats” which to date has grown to 19,800 likes increasing my clients tremendously.
My clients are people who want to learn skills they can earn from, others are working people seeking out a hobby and others looking for a side hustle.
I advertise my training online, book a venue and interested people come for training. Each class lasts three hours and each trainee pays Ksh.1,500 or less when I have subsidized my classes. For the training class, the trainees are provided with all materials.
After the training, I direct trainees where to buy materials and also help them with pricing and marketing their finished products. I also employ some on salaries and other on commission to help me with my orders. I form a whatsapp group for each class, for guidance, follow up and specialized assistance for slow learners.
I use knitting threads (robin, butterfly and seal), crotchet, tapestry, a pair of scissors, a marker pen among others. The process involves sewing neatly cut pieces of knitting threads on a tapestry using a crotchet. The marker pen is used for mats that have designs i.e. flowers, names, patterns and such.
I have trained over 2,000 people across East Africa, I hold rotation training in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri, Kisii, Thika, Meru and major towns in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Most of my trainers learn fast as it is easy to do. I also do home training at extra fee, most clients in this category are breastfeeding mothers.
I get orders from hotels, supermarkets and individuals. One competitive advantage for my shaggy mats against mats bought from shops or supermarket is that I make customized designs to client desires.
Orders are custom-made; designs, patterns, colors, logo among others. This is unlike that ready-made ones at stores where one picks what is just close to their taste and preferences.
The pricing for shaggy mats starts at Ksh.1,500 for a quarter by quarter meter size mat. That translates to Ksh.6,000 for one meter square mat which is sometime slightly negotiable.
The handmade mats are easy to clean and maintain as compared to conventional machine carpets. The user can just wash like normal laundry and they can dry easily. This is unlike other rugs that in most case have to be taken to a cleaner. The handmade carpets are more durable, can be made in different shapes and design.
I encourage national government, county government and NGOs to empower women to learn skill-based occupation to earn an extra coin. Hand skills, like this one are good. You earn money; occupy your mind while at it and it’s very good for stress relief and management.
If you learn, train others; let’s empower everyone and create employment.
My future plans is to make raw materials available and affordable, also expand the business and produce shaggy mats; selling to major supermarkets and have surplus for export.
Being a pioneer of these training programmes in East Africa, I also plan to expand the skills to entire continent with a kick off training in Rwanda, Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia.
The business idea of making shaggy mats teaches us that there is nothing that can stop a person with a determined spirit from achieving greater things in life.
Lack of money should not dampen your dreams. Even with as little as Ksh.5,000 you can set up Kenya’s next big name in the home decor industry.
Business Man & Mentor