Flora Mathew Kawa 36, owner of Florinya Design deals in Creative designing. She says her journey to being creative designer started off as a hobby as often times she used to make her own accessories.
“This is when I studied a Master’s Degree in International Business at Gloucester University in England but soon when I finished my studies I decided to come back home to seek for job,” she says.
Flora who was rewarded as the best business innovator by Clouds Media - Malkia wa Nguvu 2017 also received different awards in and outside the country.
According to her, three months down the line with no job offer she opted for self-employment.
So she decided to take her hobby more seriously and started to engage herself with the fashion industry in Tanzania with the help of her friend, Ms Edna Ndibalema.
“Being the owner I was also the main creative designer, something which pushed me to form a team of experts to make work a success,” she notes.
Flora says as time went on she decided to make her business more impactful by focusing on her community, whereby she realised there were many underprivileged young women and girls who needed to be empowered and so through her business line she thought it would be best if she empowers young women and girls through job opportunities and enhancing their creative skills.
“Through this process we make crochet accessories that tell stories of these amazing women and girls. So this is how I got motivated because I realised I was not only making business but also changing lives in my community,” she notes.
Flora was born in Moshi 1981, grew up in Mozambique with a great educational background. She completed her primary schooling in Tanzania up to her A Level – Moved to England where she did her Diploma in Marketing from Brayer State University (London Campus), then she went for a Degree in Human Resource from University of Wales Institute of Cardiff (England), and later on an MBA (Masters) In International Business from University of Gloucester (England) and lastly a certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship course at Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, USA).
“In my educational back ground, I have been privileged to get the best education from my kindergarten to university level and through this exposure I realised I was capable of doing so much and taking enough risks,” she says.
Starting Florinya Designs
Flora said before she started Florinyah Designs, she was working at a private company - Global Services as a Human Resource consultant and a Social Worker at VI & John Reuben House in England.
These were part time jobs she had on as she was studying at the same time.
“Basically at Florinya Designs we deal in making crochet accessories that tell stories. These accessories can either be statement pieces, earrings, bracelets, bangles etc.” she says.
She says all these accessories are made out of crochet yarn; recycled materials, volcanic lava beads, marble beads, and other recycled materials, noting that she also make swimsuits on custom orders.
The major tasks that we are responsible for at Florinyah Designs is basically to see how we can design, sketch and create eye catching pieces/accessories that will be telling a story.
“This means that making accessories that will be meaningful based on the story of an individual or a group. Also we work as a team to crochet these pieces and collect orders that come through and make sure we deliver them to our customers at the given time with the best work.”
Moreover we take moments to listen to the stories of these women and girls once a month and work around it to create or come up with the exquisite crochet pieces/accessories that will tell stories.
Flora says her key customers are from middle class to upper class. People who can afford our prices and are willing to support our course of impact we welcome them.
We associate mostly with different events in our community and abroad those are in one way or the other impacting or empowering young women and girls. But at the same time we have clients who order custom made accessories which come from the ordinary.
From the beginning of Florinyah Designs she has managed to learn a lot and hence this has enabled her to reach on higher grounds.
“I was rewarded the best business innovator by Clouds Media - Malkia wa Nguvu 2017, Attained a certificate by the US Department of State under Mandela Washington Fellowship, Best Pitch Practice by Clark Atlanta University, Creative Enterprise Program Certificate by NESTA (British Council Uganda), and also Pitch Readiness Practice By Graca Machel Trust Fund.
“These are awards that I have achieved through my successful journey as an entrepreneur,”she says.
Flora says after the accomplishment of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (YALI) 2017, she managed to get mentors who follows up on what she do and the progress of business and everyday learning.
She mentions Prof Dennis Kimbro from Clark Atlanta University, Mr Rony Delgarde - Self Made Entrepreneur (Global Paint Charity) Atlanta and Lady Fiskani - Celebrity Stylist, Atlanta. These mentors do regular checks on what I do and my progress.
She says the challenges that face her business at the moment are basically funding.
As a small business, we are growing at a very fast momentum and it becomes a bit challenging as we do not have enough funds to quickly cater to our growth,” notes Flora, adding that...
“I am looking to have a small vocational hub for young women and girls who will be able to walk in and learn, train and be assisted on how they can self-employ themselves after a 6 months course.”
She adds that to have such facilities we are looking for funds to accomplish that in the near future. Moreover there are other things like EDF Machines, it is by law to have the receipt machine yet at the same time as a start-up it is quite expensive but then again challenges come to build you not to destroy you so we are trying our best to get one.
Speaking about how she overcomes the challenges, the young innovator says: they have a small space that she have tried to make it a bit comfortable for her and her team to work around and make it as our meeting point.
She says in the meantime she has secured funds and believes she will be in a position to do more and offer space for many young women and girls.
in the future as possible.
On the part of receipts at the moment she says she has receipt books that are accepted in various places she goes to showcase her stuff and plans are afoot to use the Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD).
Asked how she distinguishes herself from other designers, Flora says she can literally distinguish herself from other creative designers based on the quality of her products.
“What I do, how I do it and the purpose of me doing what I do. I am not only doing what I do meaning just a hobby but I am giving my work a reason and a purpose in it.”
I tell stories of individuals or groups of amazing underprivileged women in my community through crochet accessories. These are 100% crochet hand made. Many local artisans make accessories from paper, Maasai beads, pearls etc but i make mine from crochet yarn,” she adds.
Flora says a simple advice to youths or anyone looking to get into the entrepreneurship world all she can say is to encourage them to ‘DO WHAT they LOVE BEST’.
“Once you know what makes you happy or what pushes you to do whether its 2am in the morning or 2pm in the afternoon - Just go for it and do it,” insists Flora.
She says one does not need a huge capital to record any difference, noting that one should embrace drive, determination, discipline and self-push that pave way for success in business.
“Once all that is there, you will be amazed how everything else will engage itself. And lastly, NEVER STOP LEARNING,” she says adding:
“Being an entrepreneur you need to read and read and read….read for purpose and also read for fun if you may. Knowledge is everything, and just knows there is no end in learning.”
FIVE YEARS TO COME
As FLORINYAH DESIGNS I see myself being a recognised brand both locally and in internationally. I see myself changing lives through my business in not only my community but also the entire world. A brand with a significant purpose in life.
“To be known in every part of Tanzania, Africa ,Europe, Asia and the United States with what we do as crochet accessories and what we are focused and tuned to do. “She says. Her day begin well.
Funny thing she do not have a scheduled routine of her everyday life. Most of the times her day may begin from about 6am the usual freshening up, prayer, breakfast at about 9am we start a meeting with my girls and see what we are on for the day.
If we have sketches that need to be made then we work on them, start crocheting, make follow ups on orders and deliveries.
Check on upcoming events and apply if applicable. By the end of the day, we evaluate our daily work and write reports for the day and prepare for the next day’s task.
Weekends we prefer to socialize as a group this is to bring about group engagement and enjoy moments together. Crochet work is very fascinating, challenging, tiresome so what we do is encourage some social activities amongst ourselves.
Flora mention the enjoyable moment As almost she love everything to be precise, from the designing to the sketching to the making of the accessories it is one of the best moments and feelings ever I do enjoy.
“And am happy and glad my team has the same feeling when it comes to the whole working process. I enjoy the end product because it has a story behind.”
I love watching movies, so my very best thing is going to the movies. Secondly I love socializing, with friends and family: Like also going out, enjoying a bit of music, dine out, etc. In my free time I also enjoy doing things, being creative and discovering things. I love cooking, reading, travelling and lastly taking timeouts at the beach.
Flora distinguishes herself as first before others she believes in God.
“I can easily to talk to kind of lady. Charming, caring, humble, great personality and always ready to help and assist if need be,” she says.
I love socializing, engaging with people in various educational and fun activities. She notes that she is a lover of movies and adventures.
“I love playing basketball I used to be a good player back then but at the moment I work out for fun nothing serious. I love my family and all my dear customers and work colleagues. Because of them I am who I am today and I thank them so much,” says Flora.