KarenGuide Blog

Amazing adventures, real life reviews and inspiration all in this perfect guide built by local bloggers

"I'm starting a little clothing business; the idea came to me from my love of all things hippie, colourful, sparkly and, of course, comfortable. I looked at some of the gorgeous Kenyan fabrics, the Indian cotton, the beads and shells and rainbow brights and thought, ‘why buy off the shelf, why not make some things myself?’

I’m whilst I’m still not sure if it’ll come to anything but it’s fun trying. Yesterday I had a moment of pure fear as I laid out money for a business that may never come to light. Then I read a sign on the school notice board that said

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”.

And I thought ‘fuck it, just do it'.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been super brave, driving my car all over Karen, making contact and discovering things. I’ve found quite a few cool places to buy material, crafts and fripperies all of which I am sharing with you. Note: some of the best places to buy crafts in Nairobi are those street corner hawkers, they offer a mean deal if you negotiate.

Kazuri Beads

Kazuri Beads was founded to provide employment for local women who were struggling to find work. Visit Kazuri and go on a factory tour to watch the work famous beads being handcrafted. As well as selling jewellery made by the women you can buy a packet of loose beads and make something wonderful for yourself. A large packet goes for 4000.

Women working at Kazuri Beads Factory

Indian Cotton at The Shop & Zawadi Africa, Karen

The best place to buy Indian Cotton to make your clothes in Malindi but if you aren’t planning a trip to the coast then two shops in Karen stock bolts of material. The Shop in Hardy Dukas (which incidentally has an awesome range of Indian Cotton clothing if you want to buy off the rack) and Zawadi Africa at Karen Crossroads (next to Nothing Like it Spa) on the first floor above KPS.

 

The Haberdashery Shop, Galleria Mall

For skeins of cotton, balls of wool, knitting needles, buttons, badges and all kinds of sewing paraphernalia then this shop in the Galleria stocks everything you need. It is closer than a trip to Biashara Street but more expensive. If you are a Karenite you need to weigh up the pros and cons of Uhuru Drive vs the pesa in your pocket.

 

Craft Market at the Galleria

Let’s face it the craft market is a tourist trap and their products are priced accordingly but if you go there with determination and a shallow grasp of Swahili you can find Kitenge, Kikoys and local crafts without breaking the bank Negotiation is key.

 

Utamaduni

Utamaduni is another tourist stop off on the Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Centre circuit. It’s a large house filled will some usual crafts from all over Africa. Whilst it is priced for the tourist market, they aren’t excessive and you don’t have to negotiate. If you are looking for more unusual material there is a shop here that stocks mudcloth and occasionally other African fabric.

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