MITUMBA ARTS LIMITED
About MITUMBA ART
Mitumba Art was started by Sonja Parkinson in 2004 as a hobby, then living on Lewa in northern Kenya. Sonja has always been artistic, loved working with her hands and has a keen eye for spotting good quality second hand clothes from the many markets in central Kenya. Sonja has trained as a craftsperson and in her career, as well as working as a goldsmith, seamstress, medal tailor and china painter she is highly skilled in creative activity.
The inspiration for Sonja to establish Mitumba Art was found during her regular visits to the local second hand “Mitumba” markets, found in virtually every Kenyan
town. Sonja saw the opportunity to buy cotton and linen clothes, then using her natural talent and the skills of local Kenyan artists, converts these materials into items which tourists would be happy to buy. Her second innovation was finding young disadvantaged Kenyans with very few prospects and offering them work in the creative “conversion” process.
Sonja set out to begin her workshop venture with a staff of four people on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (www.lewa.org) by painting on various materials and creating such items as cushion covers, table runners, napkins and cards. Her first employees included Chelene, Charity and Ephraim.
In April 2008 Sonja moved her workshop to Nanyuki, a town on the slopes of Mount Kenya situated smack bang on the equator. Since moving her workshop the demand has grown and now Sonja employs sixteen local artists. .
Chelena tumbo kurisian joined mitumba art in 2009, she learned sewing at isiolo polytechnic and has been with mitumba art since then.She is currently playing the overal manager role after a well proven track record working with sonja.she has also taken some young people under her wing and is training them
& chelena’s ethos is to use quality local available material, to develop the artistic talents of the local youngsters and help provide a regular income to allow them to support themselves and their families. The biographies of the staff at Mitumba Art show how Sonja’s initial idea has positively affected the lives of her team and given them the opportunity to make the most of their abilities, giving them a choice in determining their own and their children’s’ futures.