In 2002, Vincent, a trained designer and jewellery maker, was helping out with a group of ‘street boys’ (term used for homeless men) within the Kibera slums of Nairobi, with his church group. He observed that these boys needed something practical to engage them, something to keep them away from destructive living behaviours.
He also recognised the difficulty these boys had in finding employment. “The community tends to shun them as ‘hopeless’, trouble makers, and in fact, they themselves have very low self-esteem and have trouble accepting and appreciating themselves”. Vincent came up with a plan! To create a nurturing environment where these young men could learn a trade, work with their hands, be engaged on a day to day basis – Be EMPLOYED.
Vincent has formal training in design, is a truly enthusiastic creative, and is inspired to make jewellery. With a big heart and a business brain to match, he started a business that not only trains and employs youth from the Kibera slum, but also creates spectacular hand made jewellery from cow horn and cow bone!
With a small group of street boys, he started his workshop business in 2003. It took five years to gain stability, with many highs and lows along the way. In 2008, a group of five trained, and employed young men, received their first large order! The workshop has been steadily growing since.
Vincent has worked with many ‘street boys’ over the years – currently, he has six men working full time.
The cow horn and bone used in Vincent’s workshop, is sourced from local eateries and abattoirs. If you are thinking ‘Ewhh, poor cows’ all I can say is this…These guys are using materials that would otherwise end up in the dump (so free!), to create unbelievably cool and on trend product (ingenious, creative & talented), up-cycling, (environmentalists), having a go, and making a living! I’m thinking pretty ‘amazing’.
Bone and horn beads have a long history on the African continent. Both are great materials, due to their strength and the ease with which they can be carved, and polished by hand. While a labour of love, (there is a lot of cleaning, bleaching, carving, sanding) the end result makes for some truly unique and beautiful pieces.
His Success Story
Ishmael, was one of the very first young men to start with Vincent back in 2003. Ishmael’s early years consisted of living on the streets with his mates, drugs, going to dumps within Nairobi to find rubbish to sell and live on.
Today, he is a part-owner in the business, plays a pivotal role in management and training, and enjoys the challenge of working within a growing business he helped create. He now lives in his OWN house, is married with one son and is definitely one very happy young man with an infectious smile!
Latest Articles on Vincent
Post by mandella on June 17, 2015
Cow Horn & Jewellery Jewellery made from cow horn & bone has been a long time tradition in Kenya. The use of this material for some people, is 'off putting' and even controversial. It is a personal choice of course, but knowledge is king,...Read more >
Tinkered by Vincent
A sample of some of Vincent and Ishmael’s fantastic work with cow horn!
A collaboration piece between Vincent and Kairu! Vincent crafted the large cow horn links, Kairu add the leather neckline.
Each earring is hand cut from the tip section of each horn, making their shape and colours truly unique.
This set of three up-cycled cow horn bangles will get you on your way to the layered look!