Anton and Benta are the talented husband and wife team behind our collection of Kenyan jewellery. Having worked with them at their family home for over five years we know all about their quality and craftsmanship but we wanted to find out more about the couple themselves. During her most recent trip to Kenya, our designer, Amy, sat down with Benta for a heart to heart about life, love and what it takes to run a successful family business.
How long have you been married for? Anton and I have been married twenty nine years.
Wow that's a long time and you both look so young! How and when did you meet? I was a friend of Anton's sister, we dated for one year before Anton got down on one knee in Nairobi and proposed with a rose flower. I was sixteen and Anton was twenty three. At the time Anton was working at Kitengela Glass. After being married for fourteen years we decided to start our own jewellery business. We still love working together every day from the workshop we've built at the back of our home.
What is Anton's main role in the business? Anton has an engineering mind and loves the designing and sampling process. [ I agree as it's always so inspiring to work in collaboration with Anton on new designs for our collections. ]
And what's your favourite part of running your own business? My main role is quality control and pricing which I really enjoy but my favourite job is pouring the brass and I also know how to grind and buff the jewellery after its been cast.
I know from my own experiences of running Artisans & Adventurers together with my business partner, Bee, that there is always so much to do and learn! How did you gain the extra skills you needed? I was fortunate to receive free business training through Nest which gave me the necessary skills to manage the costing and financial side of the business. My daughter Macryne is currently applying to study accountancy and I hope that one day she will take over this side of the business.
That's great, so it's a real family affair! How many children do you and Anton have? We have nine children in total! Seven are our own and two we adopted from Anton's sister who sadly passed away eleven years ago. Seven out of the nine still live with us here and two years ago I became a grandmother to Anton and Benta Junior who live in a cosy out-house that we built for their dad, our son Dominic and his wife Perez. Dominic also works with us casting jewellery as does his younger brother Bruno who is currently studying for a certificate in casting at a college in Nairobi.
What are your future plans and dreams? I love nature and gardening and my dream is to afford a car and a bigger house in the countryside with lots of trees and flowers around. That sounds like our dream too. So would you move the workshop there? No, moving out of this house would allow us to expand our workshop at its current location and provide on site accommodation for our staff. The business currently employs five staff members (excluding family) whom Anton trained from scratch and have been working with us for between three and seven years.
I know you both work really hard so how do you relax in your spare time? I really like to go to the salon for manicures [laughs], I also own a sheep that I like to visit in the evenings and I enjoy cooking for myself with vegetables that I grow in my garden a the back of our house. What's your favourite dish? Sukuma Wiki! [a traditional African dish made with collard greens, known as sukuma, cooked with onions and spices.]
Out of everything you have made for Artisans & Adventurers, which design of ours is your favourite? My favourite is the Mamba Bangle. Ahh one of our signature pieces, we love that one too. What about Anton? Anton likes the Eye design the best.