In Summary
  • Exactly six-and-a-half years ago, she was distraught following a false start at what she thought at the time was her dream career.
  • After five months, she was fired.
  • When the initial shock wore off, she spent the next five months seeking closure and thinking about whether she was ready to go back to employment and risk getting sacked again or whether to decide what she wanted to do for the rest of her life and pursue it with all she had.

At just 30 years, Daphine Okonji is at the helm of four successful companies.

When we get to her Kileleshwa office for this interview, she is going about her day with ease and self-assuredness. It’s hard to believe that she stumbled into interior design.
Exactly six-and-a-half years ago, she was distraught following a false start at what she thought at the time was her dream career.

She had a degree in business from Strathmore University, a diploma in human resources management and the job she landed soon after graduation at a human resources firm in Nairobi seemed like the answer to her prayers.

After five months, she was fired.
“I loved that job and I was so crushed that I broke down in front of the lady who gave me the termination letter,” she recalls.

When the initial shock wore off, she spent the next five months seeking closure and thinking about whether she was ready to go back to employment and risk getting sacked again or whether to decide what she wanted to do for the rest of her life and pursue it with all she had.

Sign from above
She settled for the latter and together with her husband Jan Okonji, who was her boyfriend at the time and a friend, registered a business partnership.

She realised that it was a good thing she hadn’t been in employment for long as she hadn’t acquired any loans or gotten entangled in debt yet. At this point, people couldn’t understand why she was getting into a business which was entirely different from her training.

She began getting pressure from her parents to look for another job and she gave in for a while and began sending out job applications. Surprisingly, despite having an impressive resume, she was not called even for a mock interview.

“I took this as a sign that I should go into business. The silence from prospective employers strengthened my resolve.”

Their company hired out gardens for functions and they also had a home in the same compound which they hired out for weekend getaways as well as to couples who wished to spend a night or two in town before heading out to their honeymoon destinations.

In the first month, Daphine realised that she immensely enjoyed the time she spent furnishing this house and putting together the décor and she also liked the end result.

Without wasting any time, and armed with only this passion, she registered an interior design company, and when she wasn’t working at the bigger company, she was fanning her passion, seeking and devouring all the information she could on interior décor.

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