Our Story

My {Abbreviated Story}

I grew up in Kenya, and have lived in Nairobi for the better part of my life. I love reading books, anything from Biographies, to thrillers, and Romance (of course!). On my best days, you’d find me at the beach listening to Jenna Kutcher’s The Goal Digger Podcast. Seriously, check her out, she is amazing. 

I generally consider myself a go getter and I really try to finish what I start out. I love working in a happy and chilled environment. I really try to avoid formality, honestly I even have a problem writing emails and my dress code is usually 99% jeans and T-shirt. 

Why I started Purpink

I have always loved gift giving . From as early as I can remember I enjoyed going into town, getting into different stores, and getting the most unique gifts for my friends. Admittedly, one day a light switch came on and I decided to try it out as a business. I honestly didn’t think too much of it at the start or that eight years later we would end up being one of the largest gift stores in the country. For me it was just one of my cookie ideas. I found the perfect opportunity to create a new model that would provide a better alternative to the options that were currently available for gifting and the flower industry. 

I wanted Purpink to solve a real problem that I personally experienced every time I wanted to send flowers and gifts to my friends. I wanted unique gifts and designed flower bouquets that were as pretty and well thought out as the ones on Pinterest. I generally wanted to make ordering easy and fast plus the gifts and flowers to be beautifully wrapped. 

How I came Up with the Name Purpink

Purpink comes from two words, Purple and Pink. Pink is my favourite colour and Purple is my co-founder’s favourite colour. He also happens to be my husband. 

What’s Purpink’s Flower Model?

Initially, when we started out, Purpink was primarily just a gift shop. We didn’t sell any flowers. After sometime, I realised that flowers were an essential part of any gift. The curiosity sparked a lot of research, where I found the e-commerce flower space in Kenya to be quite undisrupted. It’s also an industry that I felt did not have that much innovation. So I want back to flower school (actually did an online course at the New York School of Arts), and got started on trying to disrupt what we thought was the flowers and gifts market in Kenya. Eight years later, what I can tell you is that disruption is not as easy as you think. But I am very happy with the progress and what we have been able to achieve.

Our model is farm to vase. We source the highest quality flowers directly from the farms and deliver them to our recipients within a day max. This means that our customers get at least 10 days of vase life (sounds too good to believe? Ha!) The logistics of it at times feels like total madness. This is because most of the farms are located in areas like Nanyuki, Eldama Ravine or even Molo. We try to completely avoid storing the flowers in a cold chain as we feel this eventually reduces the vase life for the recipient. The flowers ship directly to our distribution facilities in Nairobi, and are immediately dispatched to recipients all over the country. In future, we plan to delivery directly from farm to recipient. 

How we choose our gifts

After our unique flower model, creating a way to differentiate ourselves from the other gift stores was extremely important to me. I wanted every recipient of a Purpink Gift to feel that it was well thought out and extremely unique. I wanted to differentiate our gifts, not copy someone else. I set up to look for the most unique creators all over the world (no, seriously!). Our gifts come from Atlanta to Australia to Africa; we have the most diverse range of creators from small batch designers based in their homes, to large scale companies such as Disney. What they all in common? The gifts are really cool. I personally source this going over hundreds of catalogues daily, trying to find what we feel will be the best fit for our clients.  

What are Purpink’s Values and Why are they so important to me?

My goal wasn’t to just start a business - it was to build an amazing brand. I wanted to create a place that everyone would want to buy from, sell to and work for. We have a value inside our company that we like to say, Jishinde Ushinde. For us it means defeating our own biases and weaknesses so that we can be the very best at what we do. This single value is passed on from our customer service team members to our delivery riders. I feel we all share one belief that we want to be better than our own weaknesses. 

Challenges we’ve encountered along the way. 

Starting a business is tough, but that’s not news. For us, our first two years were the hardest. We were in a consistent state of fear, not knowing if our model was different enough, or if we were going to succeed at all. It didn’t help that a lot of people seemed to feel that the industry we chose (flowers and gifting) was not serious enough to consider for innovation. I remember going to pitch a number of times, and every time I would mention that we are in the flowers and gifts industry, I’d automatically feel an atmosphere of lack of interest. In addition to the constant state of fear, you have to do everything yourself. To be quite honest, these challenges didn’t change overnight, however, have sort of graduated as the years have gone by. I personally feel that in business, some of these insecurities become a part of you, and even help you at times to make the right decisions. 

I’ve had so many more challenges and failures that if I had to list I’d probably have to write a book. But here are a few more. 

  • Sourcing Flowers Locally - You’d be shocked that most of our flower farms are geared towards the export market. So much so that for them  to sell their export quality flowers to a local company seems more of a hassle than a general viable business. The funny part is the same flower farms have no problem flooding the reject flowers termed as locals in the market in the event of flight delays or not meeting quality standards. What this creates is a scenario where we have the same product in the market but with two very different pricing; because the farm will sell export flowers at Kes. x and then flood the market with locals at Kes. x/10 .
  • Our inability to raise capital while needing to compete with new heavily funded companies. 
  • Creating a positive work culture within our team, 
  • Not running out of money when bootstrapping your business because most financial institutions in Kenya are not aligned with start up needs. 

These are just a few though. 

Advise to other Entrepreneurs and start up Founders 

Honestly, and according to me, I can’t really point out one specific secret for business success. In my experience it is just resilience, good old fashioned hard work and a few good ideas here and there. That’s all. Sometimes you might feel like a complete failure, probably shed a lot of tears, but if you consistently stick to your guns, it will all be worth it. 

Favourite Flower

My favourite has to be lilies. I love them because they look beautiful, smell extravagantly amazing, and last long (for real, I usually get two weeks of vase life).

Have any additional questions? You can email me at diana@purpink.co.ke