Home » MY HUSTLE: Waste bottles pay my school fees

MY HUSTLE: Waste bottles pay my school fees


More by this Author

Ms Zipporah Kigotho treasures waste bottles.

She’s a student at Mathenge Technical Institute in Othaya, Nyeri County, and has never asked her parents for school fees ever since she started the business of recycling and beautifying waste bottles.

At her parents’ home at Kiganjo village, Ol Kalou, Nyandarua County, there is a heap of waste plastic bottles in one corner of the expansive table room. Zipporah is in a second room surrounded by more bottles, threads, a sticker glue on the table and a pair of scissors at hand.

Those are the only raw materials she requires to earn a decent life and occasionally buy gifts for her parents.

The second-year hospitality management student proudly says her life revolves around her child, the bottles and her classwork.

“When in college, I have no time for outings or merrymaking; I spend my free time after classwork and doing assignments to design the flowers.

I love beauty and cooking, that is why I am taking the course and perfecting my art in interior décor.”

She says that the two courses, hospitality and beauty, complement each other, and her plan is to design the beautiful flowers in her free time and off days when done with college and is employed.

“My ultimate goal is to own a beauty shop where I will design my own products, but I will have to get a job first to raise capital for my dream shop. I will then train and employ other young people.”

Once she collects the empty plastic bottles, she then buys threads of different colours, before designing the type of flower she wants to make.

The decision on the type of flower to prepare depends on the customer’s tastes and specification, or her own initiative and creativity when not working for a specific customer.

“One must be very creative to sustain and attract more customers.

You will find that more often than not, customers get more attracted to a newly developed design of a flower than what they had ordered.

In this case, it means the customer will carry the order and purchase the new design.”

The desire to make interior décors started Zipporah was still a young girl at Kiganjo Primary School when she collected pieces of paper or threads to make small flowers.

But she had no spare time for the arts after Joining Salient Secondary School at Captain Market in Ol Kalou until she joined the college.

The desire in her resurrected during a research lesson when she volunteered to do one on interior décor.

During the research period, Zipporah came across many flower designs on the internet and immediately thought of how she can develop the same, using locally available resources.

She started by designing two flowers in a day, but she has since gained experience and speed, and can now make up to ten sets in a day.

Her main customers are shops selling furniture, individuals and institutions in need of beautifying their offices in a unique way.

The cost of production per flower is Sh100 which she sells at between Sh400 and Sh450 depending on design and customer ability.

“I use one thread bought at Sh100 to design two flowers, the main cost is on the threads and labour since I use very little glue.

Besides being creative, one must also understand colour matching before buying the threads from the shops.”

Traders selling furniture especially these made using glass are her main customers and have helped popularise and market her products.

On  a good day, Zipporah sells all the ten flowers designed in a day, earning her between Sh4, 000 and Sh4, 500 in a day.

She says the biggest challenge in the business is to collect the bottles since she must get them clean and in good shape.

To overcome the challenge, she has to monitor places where big events like weddings, funerals and open public forums are taking place where she collects enough clean and undamaged bottles.

The other challenge is customers who place orders, but later complain that the colours do not match as requested, a challenge she is overcoming by having the customers write down the colours and designs of their choice in own handwriting.

Zipporah also attributes her success to the timely delivery of flowers to the customers as agreed at the time of placing their orders. 

Since she ventured in the flower design making business, Zipporah says she has never bothered her parents with her school fees, pocket money and she has some good savings for a rainy day.

“My parents are very supportive and appreciate what I do, they allow me to manage my time without giving me additional house chores unless when very necessary.”