If you think it’s difficult to establish a successful auto upholstery business in North America, try doing it in Africa.
Business Daily Africa recently profiled Stitched by Wash, a Kenyan shop that was founded four years ago and had to overcome incredible obstacles — including a serious lack of materials, sewing machines and skilled craftsmen.
“The machinery is..a big problem,” co-founder Robert Mbok told the news site. “Getting raw materials is hard, such as microfiber which I have to import from Dubai or China. If a client needs fast customisation, they are limited to either taking what we can offer or having to wait.”
“Being niche, we do not have as many people that are experienced in this field. If I am looking for someone who is super good at upholstery, there are no institutions that are training people in this. We have limited talent and skills. We have to train them on the job.”
What’s more, Robert and his two partners don’t have access to institutions or resources, like the Small Business Administration, to guide them on the journey.
Despite this, the founders are committed to turning Stitched by Wash into one of the biggest upholstery companies in East Africa, and are well on their way. In fact, in just four years they’ve expanded to three locations — Nairobi, Mombasa, and Eldoret — and even employ 50 people.
It’s proof that dedication, strategic planning and hard work can overcome most obstacles.
Read their inspiring story here: “How brothers stitched luxury car upholstery business.”