2018 - DEPOP & THE LONDON MARATHON
During my placement year at Newcastle university, I lived in Nairobi and I 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 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 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 some of her gorgeous, handmade jewellery.
Before I could blink, I had suddenly booked a flight to Nairobi to go see Anne and her workshop.
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.
During this visit, I spoke to Anne about how her business works and how it conforms to fair trade. I've devised a web page describing in detail how Anne's business is equal and fair. You can find this here.
After I visited the workshop which is based at her home and met Anne's team, it didn't take long for her business to officially became our Nairobi supplier.
Since this trip to Kenya, Rhimani launched a 'Handmade in Nairobi' earring collection. The collection raises awareness for fair trade and celebrates the Maasai culture.
I believe meeting Anne that day in the Maasai market was a little moment of fate. Out of the all the stalls and pop ups I could have gone to, I went to Anne's.
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, we now have a Rhimani studio! Our studio is based in Wimbledon 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 conservation and education in Kenya 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. A portion of each and every purchase is put aside and we donate at LEAST 10% of our makings towards charities that focus on deprived communities in Kenya, and critical areas of African wildlife conservation. ‘Each month, a different charity’.
To date Rhimani has raised a huge £13,000, supporting a diverse mix of conservation and education charities. Our biggest sum being £4,000 which we raised for ‘Save The Rhino’. Each month we write a blog about our chosen charity and inform you exactly where this money goes and what impact it has had. Please find all this info about chosen charities here:
That's how it started, now we haven't stopped.
Find us on Instagram and Facebook - @rhimaniuk and #JOINTHEPACK