NAIROBI, Kenya, July 20 – In 1906, Japanese writer Okakura Kakuzo wrote a long essay that included the quote, “In joy or sadness, flowers are a constant friend”. More than a hundred years later, flowers remain just that.
But for 26-year-old Coretta Kai, while flowers are beautiful, they are just not enough. This led her to start Kora Edibles, a company that makes artistically designed fruit hampers that resemble a bouquet of flowers.
“I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so when the opportunity presented itself, I turned my home kitchen into a factory that makes fruits bouquet.”
Kora Edibles was founded on minimum income, with Coretta saying her starting capital only included fruits and chocolate. Since its launch in late 2014, the company has sold products topping Sh2.5 million.
The company uses different fruits to make flower-like bouquets. Fruits used include strawberries, apples, kiwis and pineapples among others. She also uses different kinds of chocolate such as milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate.
“We basically cut the fruits and dip them in melted chocolate before mounting them onto eating sticks and then designing them into bouquets.”
Since the company’s launch, Coretta says it has over 500 regular clients. It is also growing its clientele base mainly through referrals and online marketing. Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram have been her most useful marketing tools.
The company moved out of the home kitchen office, a feat Coretta considers to be one of her major achievements so far.
“It’s been quite a journey. I did not imagine that one day I’d end up having my own office. But now I do.”
The journey has however been marred by challenges. These include identifying suitable clients and meeting their expectations. There’s also the issue of introducing a new product in an almost virgin market.
“Kenyans are not so fond of flowers in the first place, so convincing them on fruits bouquets took some work.”
Coretta had to also learn how to strike a balance between her full-time job as an accountant and what began as a side hustle. What’s worse, her founding partner was also in full-time employment. This left the entrepreneur with no choice but to quit her 8 to 5 and concentrate on her business, a decision she doesn’t regret.
Is she afraid of other people stealing her ideas? “No, I’m not. I used to be in the beginning, but then I grew confident of my skill and realized that even if someone else came to do what I do, they would not do it as I do it as we are all different.”
She also encourages others to get into the craft, saying it is inexpensive to start but sees the opportunity it would create for fruits bouquets as demand rises.
Coretta, who says she has no educational background to support her craft – she studied Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the University of Nairobi – encourages people to be bold enough and pursue their dreams.
“You never know where that could lead you,” Coretta, who is a beneficiary of KCB Lion’s Den says in conclusion.