For many people, loss of a job has always been the start of their misery but for Peter Ngugi aka Stickaman it was the beginning of his successful venture. As per his alias name, Ngugi specializes in putting reflective stickers and branding vehicles and bodabodas in Nyahururu town.
When Stickaman lost his job in Nairobi as a chef at a big hotel, he did not lose hope but went to Grogan, acquired skills and moved back to Nyahururu to eke a living using the newly gained knowledge.
When KNA visited him at his shop, he was busy putting some brake lights stickers and dashboard cover stickers in one of his customers’ motorbike taxi known as bodaboda.
“Immediately after I graduated, I worked as a chef for 15 years but unfortunately I lost my job and decided that I won’t go to the kitchen again. I started out with selling vehicle accessories as a hawker in Nairobi but unfortunately; the venture was very competitive and poorly paying,” reminisces Stickaman.
On learning that the business was too competitive to make a good profit, he decided to be unique and that is how he conceived the idea of making bodabodas and vehicles attractive.
“I started with painting cars and putting tints but in Nairobi I was unable to fend for my family and that’s when I decided to move back to Nyahururu with my family. I work here with my wife and my son who recently graduated from Technical University of Kenya. I receive clients from as far as Maralal and Nanyuki. Many of my customers are referrals from my previously satisfied customers,” adds Stickaman.
He says they charge fair prices unlike in Nairobi because in Nyahururu many bodaboda riders don’t make much money.
Stickaman designs the stickers on a computer before printing them on paper and sticking them on a customer’s bodaboda or vehicle.
Elikana, a bodaboda rider and frequent customer, visits the shop to put a sticker on his motorcycle. “When you put some stickers on your bodaboda, it attracts the customers and makes it noticeable from a distance. The stickers are more affordable compared to repainting the bodaboda.
The stickers also cover the rusted or worn out parts of the bodaboda giving them a fresh look. Also, when you want to sell your bodaboda to another person, you put stickers on it and it will attract a better price than a plain bodaboda,” says Elikana.
Another customer only identified as Francis is getting ready to leave the Stickaman’s shop after getting his bodaboda decorated.
Francis told KNA he chose his designs from a movie he watched recently and explained the same to Stickaman who produced and handed them to him just as he wanted them.
“Many people will ride a good looking bodaboda. The stickers are affordable and very attractive on the motorcycle making it easily identifiable in the midst of many bodabodas that ply the streets,’’ Francis said satisfactorily adding some customers will only ride on a good looking bodaboda, especially college students.
The stickers’ expert stressed that a customer can pay any amount as long as you produce a good sticker and stick it well. He challenges the youth especially fresh graduates to think of innovative ways to earn a living rather than waste time waiting for the rare so called white collar jobs.
His major challenge, he says is that during the rainy season, many customers don’t pimp their bodabodas due to the mud and rain water. “So this business is mainly lucrative during sunny seasons,’’ Ngugi affirms.
As he narrated more about the venture, his son, Junior was on the other hand operating one of the computers in their shop trying to create a Facebook page for his dad’s business to market it online.
“In this era, most things are done online and that’s why I’m taking my dad’s business online. With Facebook we will be able to show potential customers far and wide what we are currently doing and the latest designs,” says Junior.
By Antony Mwangi and Barton Mubea