A Stand Up Guy

Kairu, an absolute “stand up” guy that I can’t say enough great things about.  We met Kairu a couple of years ago. He was helping us to source tools and bits and bobs around Nairobi. We talked about Tinkered by’s dreams and schemes with him, he’d offer advice and was there to help out where ever he could.

Kairu specialises in leather bags and belts – his craftsmanship is perfect in every way. He is a real detail man. With a machine and a piece of cowhide, he creates any conceptual idea, and he does it brilliantly. Only problem, he didn’t have a sewing machine. To do his work, he would be travel all over Nairobi to sub-let a machine in one suburb, cutting equipment in another, tanning somewhere else and finishing tools in another location. We had a great idea!

New Beginnings

Mid 2014, with our help, Kairu purchased his first heavy duty machine. He’s been a very busy man since. Not only has he created a new range of bags and belts for Tinkered by, he’s been busy building his own independent business. Grand plans a foot for Kairu and he thinks big. For the last five months he has been collecting wood and corrugated tin to enable him to build a new workshop which will be attached to his house (currently he works in the family living room). His workshop will be big enough to accommodate his first employee come 2015. The quality of his work is outstanding, his dedication to quality, impressive, and so it is no surprise that last month, he managed to secure another large client to keep him busy!

A Family Man

Kairu and his wife Monica have three children. They live on the outskirts of Nairobi with their mothers and some of the extended family. Kids, chooks, grannies and now a new workshop being constructed. He is a happy man!

For the last 15 years, Kairu has earned his living by ‘finishing’ leather belts and bracelets for another workshop within Nairobi. These belts are decorated with small glass beads woven onto the leather by Masai women. Kairu would then place another strip of leather over the inside of the belt, to cover the back of the bead work, finish the edges nicely and attach a buckle. The work was intermittent but made ends meet. He will continue with this work until he has enough orders to keep his new machine on the go full time!


Bright Futures

Kairu has introduced to Tinkered by a new range of up-cycled bags and belts. The range includes: Large Tote bags made from leather and Kitenge (An east African waxed cotton fabric).

Two new laptop bags – one made from up-cycled cement bags, the other from the inner tubes of truck tyres. The bags are meticulously finished with detail to make you smile. Even the adjustable buckles on the strap are recycled aluminium.

There are three styles of belts. The leather belts use string ripped from old car tyres for decorative effect, Kenyan cow hide with recycled brass buckles – design inspired from Argentina, with some Kenya up-cycled flair. The third style is an  up-cycled bicycle tyre belt with recycled aluminium buckle! Great gifts for the men, with a very tough story!

Come 2015, we’ll see a new range from Kairu and his, by that time, new employee! Looking forward to it.