Mulli is one of the fantastic artisans we work with in Kenya. He leads the group of weavers who make some of our Kenyan Baskets, as well as our Kenyan Brooms. We have worked with Mulli for many years now, and his expertise in weaving has been invaluable! We asked Mulli a few questions about his craft, his team & his life in Kenya.
How did you begin working with AARVEN?
It must be more than ten years ago when Bee visited me, accidentally I would rather say! It was a chance meeting.
Do you enjoy working with us?
Yes very much as I find AARVEN supportive and we have a good business relationship for a very long period.
How long have you been doing your craft?
Over 23 years now, down the line.
Tell us a bit about yourself (Mulli is pictured above with his wife and daughter)I am a mature and honest person, a Kenyan citizen. I am married with 3 children. Two sons and a daughter. My wife is a Primary School Teacher. With my personality I can endure harsh business conditions as handcrafts are very tasking in nature. For instance sometimes one can lose everything if things go wrong and baskets are rejected. Sisal producers often have no feeling for the future and hike prices annually once demand on sisal keeps on going up without thinking about artisans like us. (Sisal is the natural material used to make our Kenyan Baskets. It is grown abundantly but farmers in some areas overcharge in order to make the most profit possible.)
The weavers lay out their baskets they have woven and Bee hand picks her favourites to bring back to sell in our store
Do you enjoy working on new designs?
Tell us about your life in KenyaI won't say life in Kenya is good relatively. It is a bit challenging, almost on everything, because here there are no price controls and inflation has sky-rocketed over the years mostly because of corruption. Thus for small scale business person like me about 90% of all my income is spent on basic needs and the rest to the expensive education system. The ugly head of absolute poverty is everywhere as Bee who has been here can attest to.
What are your favourite things to make?
Baskets as it is my line of specialisation after I quit traditional employment.
Tell us about your team
Weaving is often a social occasion and brings people together. My team is hard working and support me as I support them. From them I always receive complaints about prices for sisal which have never stabilised, but we do our best with what we can achieve. And by the way, my team prefer working with AARVEN based on our history of together and what they know about our business, especially through Bee and what I tell them.
Do you enjoy working with the international market?
International market is better than local in terms of price and creativity. The only setback is when the goods we make are rejected once already shipped to the other side of the world as one loses a lot of money and product. The other downside can be too high standard of quality which piles a lot of rejects in my store and there is no local market for the specific colours and designs due to different tastes and preferences by culture.
How do you see your future?My future is not certain because a time might come when weavers will be very few since the youth might not wish to learn weaving any more. And to some extent, rendering themselves jobless or switch to a new trend / trade that we are not used to.
Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed. I hope that this small information helps you to understand my team and I better.
Thank you to Mulli for taking the time to speak with us so honestly. You can shop our full range of Kenyan baskets made by Mulli & the weavers here.