2018 - DEPOP & THE LONDON MARATHON
During my placement year at Newcastle university, I lived in Nairobi and signed up to run the London Marathon 2018 for ‘Save the Rhino International’. My random, sudden appetite to run a 26.2 mile race came because I was eager to raise money and support African wildlife conservation. Once my spot was confirmed, before I could even think about the fact that I had to run a 26.2 mile race, I had been set a fundraising target of £2,000.
In come the accessories. Whilst in Kenya, I visited the Maasai Market. I saw an extensive, beautiful range of delicate, colourful, beaded jewellery that was all hand crafted by women living in Nairobi. I went up to one stall in the market and asked the stall owner if I could place a custom made order. I took her number so she could text me when the items were ready. I purchased a mix of earrings, headbands and necklaces to sell back in the UK with 100% going towards my marathon fundraising.
Once I came home, I used the app ‘Depop’ to sell these wonders and called my profile ‘Rhino Beads’. Within a few months I sold everything and my worldwide Depop ranking went to 158th.
In April 2018, I completed the London Marathon. It was 24 degrees; I cried, I sweated and I finished with the best drink of my life. I raised a total of £2,100 and Save the Rhino reached a massive £130,000! Why stop here though? I thought 'Rhino Beads' could be built upon.
2018 - LEARNING TO MAKE JEWELLERY & MEETING ANNE
After selling the jewellery quickly (unexpectedly), I wanted to keep it going. I wasn't able to go back out to Kenya because of university so, I taught myself to make beaded jewellery. The items I made were very different to the ones from the Maasai market, I'm not nearly skilled enough to do that. I focused on one line simplistic styles. For example, the single beaded necklaces and anklets.
Whilst I was loving making the jewellery myself and selling them on Depop, I also really wanted to get my hands back on the gorgeous jewellery I originally found in the Maasai market. Luckily (and I truly mean luckily!) I had a connection for this. That stall I visited in Nairobi at the Maasai market, where I made a custom order, was owned by someone called Anne. When I wanted to purchase some more items, I still had Anne's number and I got in touch with her again. I called her up and spoke about my plans and how I would love to sell a collection of her gorgeous, handmade jewellery.
Anne runs a small female business in Nairobi creating and selling Maasai, beaded items. She employs 5 or so women to hand craft items such as earrings, necklaces, key rings, belts, dog collars and many more gems.
After visiting Anne's workshop, seeing the inner workings and learning how her business conforms to fair trade, I launched Rhimani's 'Handmade in Nairobi' earring collection.
The collection raises awareness for fair trade and celebrates the Maasai culture. I've devised a web page describing in detail how Anne's business is equal and fair. You can find this here.
2019 - present, SUPPORTING CONSERVATION & EDUCATION
So, the present! After a couple of years trading at some awesome festivals and spending lockdown running the business out of my parents house in the Northamptonshire countryside, I now have a Rhimani studio! Our studio is based in South London where the items are handmade in-house.
Importantly Rhimani came about because I wanted to raise money for wildlife conservation and 'Save The Rhino'. This concept still very much remains.
Rhimani supports the protection of endangered species and will ALWAYS continue to do so. My true love is supporting these causes and doing what I can to help them survive. Rhimani will never be a brand without raising money for these movements. Today we donate at least 10% of our makings towards conservation work. We are proud supporters of Tusk, the African wildlife conservation charity.
To date Rhimani has raised a huge £13,000 supporting conservation and education. To find out more about our support and where exactly your money goes, check it out here.
That's how it started, now we haven't stopped.