1 June 2021
Meet Shikha, founder of SHIKHAZURI
She gave up a successful career to follow her passion
Most of us have a dream. But because of the hard work and economic uncertainty that come in the wake of realising a dream, only a few of us are brave enough to take the plunge and live it out.
Shikha Vincent is one of the inspiring female entrepreneurs out there who dared to jump.
Needed to follow her heart
Shikha Vincent was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. She had built herself a successful career in law in the UK, but something was off, and Shikha didn’t feel that she was exactly where she wanted to be. Though she was good at what she did, her law career was not her true passion. Wildlife conservation, on the other hand, have always had a special place in her heart, so one day she decided to quit her job and go live out her passion.
The decision to leave a good career and a steady income behind is not an easy one. But Shikha was determined to combine her passions and turn them into a profitable business to raise money for wildlife conservation. And not long ago, the entrepreneurial community Lionesses of Africa named her one of Africa’s 24 most innovative jewellery designers.
Went out and bought a bunch of beads
When Shikha was working with wildlife conservation, one of her jobs was to raise orphaned animals. While this is a precious job, it is also a very costly one, so she also helped run a small tourist lodge to raise money for the cause.
In 2008, the financial crisis hit. With a lot of free time and a strong urge to find new ways to generate revenue, Shikha began to think about jewellery making. She went to local markets where the amazing colours and innovative designs inspired her to go on and try jewellery designing herself. Experienced local artisans gave her advice on materials and tools, so Shikha went for it and just bought a bunch of beads. At home, she began googling tutorials and strung a few necklaces. The response from family and friends was positive, and Shikha’s jewellery sold well. Right then and there, her passion for jewellery design was born.
The innovative designer realised that she was on to something big. Something that could make money for her to channel back into the wildlife conservation projects she’s so passionate about, while promoting female artisans at the same time.
Not just handouts
Growing up in Kenya, Shikha saw a lot of poverty. According to her, trade and investment are the pillars of development – not aid. In other words, Shikha believes that handouts are a short-sighted solution, and instead, she chose to incorporate local artisans into her business model.
Right at her doorstep was a huge amount of craftsmanship and creativity. By collaborating with local women artisans, Shikha could help these women run their own businesses and make them economically self-sufficient. Now, Shikha’s company, Shikhazuri, helps support local women by buying beads and components from them. And at the same time, Shikha is able to channel money back into wildlife conservation projects.
Celebrating culture and giving back
Though Shikha considers the local artisans her business partners, Shikhazuri is a one-woman army. Shikha wants to come back and do more hands-on volunteer work in the future, but right now most of her time is devoted to growing her business. In the process, Shikha continues to live out her passion through Shikhazuri. She collaborates with like-minded brands on raising money for wildlife conservation and because of her love of big cats, she donates 5% of profits from sales to the Mara Predator Conservation Programme.
Every year she visits a couple of exhibitions to find a specific cause to support. Many organisations promise to donate money to good causes, but as a consumer, you don’t always trust the company to actually do it. That’s why it’s important for Shikha to go visit the projects and see what they need. Being there in person is the best way to make sure that there is a legitimate charitable cause, and it is also the best way to make people trust her company.
Shikhazuri is all about giving back to nature and celebrating local female artisans and African culture. All Shikhazuri jewellery pieces have a history and carry fascinating symbolism. For instance, each piece from The Big Five and Savannah collections come with a history card telling the story of the animal. That way people can identify with the values and description and express who they are through beautifully handcrafted adornments.