How Two College Grads Started Making Bean Bag Chairs | The new times
A decent couch or sofa can be expensive, most people will say. Enter the bean bag chairs, which are not only more affordable, but also extremely comfortable. They’ve been said to have been around since the 70s, they’re one of the easiest ways to add seating to a room when your budget is tight.
Their soft and spongy interior adapts to the morphology of whoever is inside. It is therefore undeniable that they are incredibly comfortable to sit on and even take a nap. These chairs aren’t so common in homes in Rwanda, and Bean Bags Kigali, a rising local company making bean bag chairs, hopes to change that. The Kabeza-based company was founded by Paula Annette Jabiro and her business partner, Happy Cleopatra Muteteri.
After completing their education at African Leadership University, towards graduation, the duo looked for a trade to keep them busy and earn a living before applying for jobs of their choice.
They both wanted to venture into something that they were passionate about, but that was unique. So they did some research and noticed that the local beanbags weren’t in the market and the few companies that sold them locally were importing them. They found a void to fill.
Happy Cleopatra Muteri
Jabiro notes that considering they were unqualified, they opted for ways to learn, thus checking Amazon where they saw how the bean bags were filled, it was thanks to this that they were able start their own business in 2021.
When making chairs, businesswomen sew covers, and also use EPS (polystyrene) beads to fill them.
They say that since they started the business early, they haven’t been able to set aside any savings for capital, but their first client paid an advance on the fees they used to start. Thanks to the deposits paid by the customers, they were able to develop their activity.
Although they have stock, the duo are also open to bespoke seats. Jabiro says running a business has taught them skills such as management, responsibility, networking and communication.
The businesswomen add that although there is some competition in this type of business, they have used the online presence by advertising their products, engaging their customers and welcoming feedback.
However, they also say that making their prices affordable has kept them exceptional and a way to attract more customers.
Paula Annette Jabiro
As with any business, their journey hasn’t been all rosy, the two say they don’t have the machines to make their jobs better and faster, but hope to gain access to them as the business grows.
“Starting this business was difficult because most people were used to having different seating like sofas and such, adjusting to beanbags is always a process,” they say.
However, the women add that those who have experienced their seats give positive feedback, which keeps them more interested in serving the public.
The business partners plan to bring a new fabric that is water resistant and can also be used at the beach and other places, and suitable for children.
The duo were able to employ nine part-time workers, eight in production and a tailor.
According to Jabiro, bean bags can be used as furniture, beds, pet resting places, camera stands, and more.
Experts say beanbags can be therapeutic devices, as people with autism love this type of furniture because it provides them with ample pressure and helps them relax while they concentrate.
Businesswomen say that poufs are advantageous over other furniture because they are cheap (their prices range from 30,000 to 70,000 Frw). They’re also comfortable to sit on or sleep in, they’re lightweight and portable, making them easy to take anywhere you want.
“They are also stylish because they can be obtained in different sizes, shapes, colors and patterns, and can be placed inside or outside any room. The poufs are also easy to clean and can work both at home and in the office,” say the business partners.