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Meet Esther Nkaambi | Owner & Founder- Malkia E Boutique

We’re so pumped about our conversation with Esther Nkaambi. Esther is the Owner & Founder of Malkia E Boutique and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Esther below.

Esther, it’s been too long since we last connected. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with our community again. Some readers might have missed our prior conversations, so maybe you can kick things off for us with a quick intro?
I founded Malkia E Boutique roughly over 2 years ago. My legal names are Esther Nkaambi Hopper, and I am a Kenyan native. My fashion has always paid homage to my heritage which included wearing colorful outfits adorned with brass, copper, and beaded jewelry.

Malkia means Queen in Our Swahili language. I was named after Queen Esther from the Bible, and grew up with friends and family calling me Queen E.

I have always been passionate about colorful beads and creative works that are made by artisans from my beloved country, Kenya. Malkia E. was born out of the love of wanting to showcase and share with the world this heritage.

All pieces are handcrafted with love in Kenya by a curated group of artisans who specialize in bead, brass, African print designs and leather work.

What’s your source of inspiration while creating any design for Malkia E Clothing and Jewelry
The Internet has revolutionized many aspects of our daily lives; it is an invaluable source of information and inspiration. I don’t have to go far to get ideas, social media and apps like Pinterest provide research and ideas for some of the goods we have in our shop.

Another source of Inspiration comes from conversations with my artisans, they have such amazing ideas, these folks are so creative they blow my mind with what they can come up with. I am blessed to have a husband who is a professional Metalsmith, who I spend hours with exchanging ideas and thought processes.

One of the things you will notice with our dress designs is they pay homage to the dresses that were fashionable in my mother’s time. I always looked forward to watching my mum dress up in shift dresses, maxi wrap skirts, maxi dresses and finish her look with bold jewelry. I grew up with inspiration all around me.

How would you describe you brand? Malkia E?
“ We Are In The Business Of Adorning Royalty.”

This sentence isn’t just a catch phrase, but how we identify each and everyone who shops with us. Our brand colors purple and Orange, express royalty, nobility, luxury, infused with Success, happiness and creativity.

Most of the products are named after cities in Kenya, family members, colors, male and female names of African nobility.

Our brand is about a journey of bringing people with us to Kenya through the colorful prints, bold jewelry and accessories.

It’s about telling the story of every single piece in our store.
We acknowledge the artisan who made the piece, we also bridge the thousands of miles from Kenya to your home with a beautiful heirloom.

We are a community and a village where everyone is taken care of and no one is ever left behind.

Why did you start Malkia E and what is your long term vision for your brand?
I was laid off from a job I loved 3 years ago from corporate America. My plan was to take some time off and figure out what my next steps would be.

I am fortunate to have a family that is super supportive. My husband sat me down and shared with me how it was time to design my best life and live it. Whatever that looked like he was going to support me.

I had been thinking about selling hand crafted products from Kenya, I sat down and wrote a business plan and with the framework in place, the idea of Malkia E became a possibility.

I went to Kenya and within weeks with the help of my family, I was able to create a team that worked with me in bringing my vision of Malkia E. to life.

I had some great samples of curated, small batch, handcrafted products to start with.

My Short term goal is to provide employment to young drop out teens with talents and skills that they can use to make products and get them off the streets.

Long term goal is to have a warehouse and factory in Kenya that provides skills in business, sewing and also crafts to individuals in the community.

What gap did you see that prompted you to start your business? How do you stand out?
I knew I had something unique for years even before I decided to start my business. Whilst working in corporate America, I had my wardrobe custom made by tailors in Kenya to my own designs, and the jewelry were pieces that I had found in the markets in Nairobi.

I was always complimented on my wardrobe choices and asked often by people I met where they could get such pieces.

From this humble beginning, I noticed a need to offer a one stop shop for unique colorful prints, jewelry and accessories made in designs that complement the modern Womxn/ Mxn lifestyle regardless of height and size.

We offer unique, curated pieces handcrafted in Kenya. We also offer our clients custom made services, which our plus size and tall clients love us for. Clients have an opportunity to pick their fabric of choice from our inventory, we agree on a pattern and our team in Kenya do the rest.

What I really like about the collection we have developed, is that our pieces can be layered up in the winter time to give a burst of color or stripped down in the summer months to be simply chic.

Can you tell us more about your team in Kenya? How many artisans do you employ? How do you support each member with their talents and their daily life?
What I love about this business is, the employment opportunities that we are providing to not only the team of artisans that I work with closely, but all other individuals who take part in producing our finished products.

We currently have two master brass smiths who have about 8 individuals working on their team.

I have a Master Tailor, who has 3 individuals who help out.

I have a master shoe maker who has 3 individuals on his team.

I have 2 master bead workers and 3 leather workers.

By paying fair wages and prices on the handmade goods, we are able to ease the financial pressure on the artisans which not only covers their basic needs, workshop rent, but also tuition for their kids in school.

We also provide a way for the artisans to afford any new machinery or tools that make their work life easier.

Malkia E is here to tell the artisans story. For every accessory or clothing item you purchase, the hands of one of our artisans made it.

Our artisans are the backbone of this Brand.

Their hands bring the vision of the Malkia E brand to life.

Alright, so before we go, how can our readers connect with you to learn more and show support?
To each one of you who has taken the time to read our Story, I want to say thank you and on behalf of our Kenya team, Asante sana- Thank you so much.

Kindly reach out to us for custom pieces at Esther@malkiae.com.

Also grab some cool jewels from Malkiae.com.

Our IG handle is Malkia__ e

Our Facebook pages are Malkia E and Malkiankaambi

Contact Info:

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