I have never lived anywhere else but here. Kenya is my home. Growing up, I have to say, I did not think much of it. I wanted badly to be an artist but I was told “You cannot make a living as an artist in Kenya.” “What about an astronaut?” Another great dream of mine growing up.
It felt like being Kenyan was the only limitation I had. I used to dream of leaving one day and going where things were possible, where dreams came true.
Just as I finished high school, my brother signed me up for a trip to climb Mount Kenya. It was an amazing experience. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. It felt like I was on the set of a grand epic film like Lord of the Rings.
It was hard walking uphill every day with a 20 KG bag on your back for 4 days but I was so busy looking around to notice! We played with snow for the first time, drank water straight from a river. On that mountain, I fell in love with my country. I purposed on Lenana Peak to make Kenya the place where dreams were possible.
When I came down, a changed woman, I began to see endless possibilities all around me. I started my career in Architecture in 2008 and in June 2013 I started my Leather Accessories Line.
Now, I am sure you are wondering if this life story was necessary. It is necessary because the beauty of that landscape transformed me. It shifted my entire worldview. I became a local tourist, visiting every town and every park I had the chance to. I got to know Nairobi intimately.
I talked to complete strangers about my life and got them to share their lives with me. And where I could not physically travel to, I travelled through the paperback novels I bought for KES 200.00 on the street. After every trip, I would come back and tell my friends about it and they started to call me Dora…from the kids’ show Dora the Explorer.
So Dora was born. An eclectic leather accessories brand whose mission is to leave no physical, social or cultural landscape unexplored in a bid to produce stunning, unique, good quality, leather lifestyle products for both work and play.
Starting Dora has been my most exciting journey yet and we have only just begun because Kenya is such a diverse place, we have not even started to scratch the surface of its potential!
We are currently working on a fashion line that is focused on exploring African print ‘Kitenge’ and its combinations with beads, brass and canvas. Leather is such a fascinating material to work with. As an architect, I find its viscous malleability inviting.
We are still a very young venture but giving back is at the core of our vision for the future. I like to say “Dora is little Miss. Credit-to-society”. We have not only provided more work for the artisans already in business, but we are now also training 2 previously unemployed young men in the craft.
We want to go further than that and establish a platform for artists to get the publicity they so desperately need through a website that will showcase their work and tell their stories.
*smh is an acronym for ‘Shake My Head’ or ‘Shaking my Head’ usually used when someone finds something so stupid no words can do it justice.