The aroma of coffee wafted up into the air on a chilly morning. Under the shady trees, notebooks in hand, Angama's retail kamukunji began. Three days of manoeuvring within bustling Nairobi was quite a change from the quiet of the lodge.
The first stop was Spring Valley Coffee where we were hosted by their lovely team. The company was founded in 2009 and has grown tremendously from three branches to over 300 countrywide. Sustainability is at the core of their operations as they source coffee from local farmers. The coffee is then hand-roasted, packaged and ready to enjoy. We got to see the roasting process firsthand. A fun challenge awaited us at the end — among four coffee samples, we were asked to identify the freshest coffee, the oldest, the bad and the good. The coffee lover and master among us (Wanja), won the challenge and she got to go home with her favourite coffee. You definitely deserved it, Wanja!
With Daniel Njiriri on the steering wheel, we cruised on the recently completed highway to Kempinski. What had we gone to see? The new Sandstorm store. The company has made leather and canvas products for over 20 years. They have an array of products from handbags to duffel bags, backpacks, purses and keychains. You will soon spot some of their products in our shop. A tour of their workshop the following day was proof of how well they uplift communities and give space for artists to thrive. Located near Kibera, they have been a source of employment as most of their employees are from there. In a bid to promote diversity, they have also employed people with disabilities and taught their staff sign language.
It’s interesting to note that one person stitches a bag from start to finish. I was curious about how they named their bags and I was delighted to learn that when a new bag is launched, the employees have a lucky draw and the bag is named after the winner. All in all, Sandstorm is an exemplary showcase of generosity and the Kenyan spirit.
Our next visit was to KikoRomeo where Ann, the founder, took us through her workshop and we witnessed how her stunning jumpsuits are made. Everything is handmade from the tie dye to the hand-painted fabrics. Rosencrantz; a luxurious jewellery brand was our next stop. We were happy to learn that their precious stones are mined sustainably across Africa. They even work with an all-female mine in Zimbabwe! For me the most interesting item was a bracelet made with volcanic stone from Mt. Kilimanjaro; the highest mountain in Africa. We visited other jewellery stores such as Swarovski and it’s interesting that each brand has its niche. A visit to one of the kikoy shops gave us amazing ideas on how to display items back at the lodge. We also had a chance to visit Sally Dudmesh who makes amazing jewellery using brass, silver and gold.
We visited various artisanal shops in Nairobi and it was great seeing stores display different artists in captivating ways. Products made by different designers such as Namnyak and Peggy O piqued our interest. Visiting Natural Lamu; a store that sells organic soaps and products was like a visit to the coast. The scent of natural products combined with coastal music breathes life into the shop’s theme and products.
The kamukunji presented a good chance for us to try out new restaurants. During one of our morning briefs, were teleported to France with the best chocolate croissants at Le Grenier A Pain in Gigiri. Later, we had lunch at Hero Restaurant, ranked as the 67th best bar in the world with authentic Japanese food. Set on the highest floor of Village Market, one takes in the full view of the city with a beautiful sunset. Its theme draws you in like a mini Comic-Con event where DC and Marvel fans converge. Their menu is designed like a comic book with a short story at the back… it's brilliant. Their food was also mind-blowingly good from the presentation to the taste. This video from their Instagram page show's the food much better than our pictures.
On the last day, we had breakfast at the Pallet Café where all the waiters are hearing impaired. To order you use sign language or point at something in the menu. I am happy to see more companies being inclusive. Later we had dinner at Cultiva where the food and service are always amazing.
The experience was a great team-building and learning experience for us. We represented the Angama values of honesty, courage, Ubuntu, respect and joy. On your next trip to Angama, pass by our beautiful safari shop to experience Kenya through different curated products.
Filed under: Safari Style
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The Angama Shamba