2 Years of Running a Social Enterprise
I started writing this post about a year ago somewhere between Nairobi and New York. It was a year into Blooh and there was so much to reflect on. Now I’m picking up the words somewhere in Virginia to finalize this stream of consciousness.
The first year of Blooh started off strong with a lot of iterations and many early customers. Feedback was constructive and our artisan network in Nairobi grew organically which allowed us to add more partners. I slowed down the operations last year intentionally to restructure our operations so we can build for the long run. For one, we shifted to a made-to-order schedule because I truly believe this is the best way to eliminate waste and become sustainable as a business. Additionally, as a bootstrapped company, managing our resources surgically and creatively has been the main effort in the background in the last year.
The highs of starting something new is a direct contrast, for better or worse, to what it takes to properly run a business. When I started I was full of passion for bringing beautifully crafted small batch products to the everyday wardrobe. The realities of building the enterprise blurs this day to day but it continues to be core to our mission. The fact that we've started to enter stores around the US from New York to California is the biggest validation for our model.
Starting is hard, building is harder. It requires commitment, and constant recommitment to the mission even if it evolves. This is the personal journey that every entrepreneur must go through differently - entrepreneurship is just a constant effort of getting out of your own way.
From when we started to now, we’ve expanded from one workshop to several. Our artisans are highly dedicated to their craft and are naturally motivated to grow. I’ve learned a lot from them all the times I’ve seen scrap metal morph into beautiful finished products.
Kenya has been going through regular protests and regional instability but our early customers, both retail and direct have been crucial in keeping us going. The next year will be about deepening our impact and building out a range of product categories. Thank you for coming along!
Sunrise over Maasai Mara, Nairobi