Paripesa desktop ad
Paripesa desktop ad

Female carpenter shares experience in a male dominated business

Filed under: Latest News,Special Comments |

I am constantly exposed to dealing with people’s doubts towards my abilities because typically a ‘girl’ can’t handle a drilling machine, laments incredible 27-year-old female carpenter.

Zellah Zindziswa Nyirenda told The Mast in an interview that “instead of verbally rebuking or confronting those doubts, I send them references of my works which do include pictures and if they maintain reluctance, I leave it be because at the end of the day, I am trying to channel my energy and focus towards those that can enable my dream and not antagonise it’’.

Zellah, proprietor of Zellah Innovations, is among a few brave and talented women doing massively well in male dominated businesses.

Just like the majority who have made it in their respective fields, Zellah has had a share of ups and downs in her carpentry journey.

As opposed to giving up and letting her dream die, which proves to be the easiest option for most of the people, the young carpenter has continuously fought hard to reach where she is today.

Sharing her experience, Zellah said, “when I first started, the first question was always, but will you manage? Knowing very well that, that is not a question they would ask me if I was male. Some even go to the extent of telling me to my face that I can’t manage the job.”

Finding a mentor in a business filled with people who are way too selfish to share knowledge is among the major challenges that she faced when starting out. Fortunately, after a long time of searching, Zellah found herself a gentleman she only identified as “Mr Ian” for her first mentor.

She further shared that among the greatest challenges which almost broke her was “when a client of mine under a different business offered me a deal worth K22,000 to design a pet store. I was very new, inexperienced and that was the largest sum I had ever quoted for a job. Because I did not personally own all the equipment required to execute the job, I subcontracted someone who ended up being a very dishonest person and compromised me to the extent I had to refund the money which I had already spent trying to execute the job because I could not deliver.”

“Lawyers and police were involved and it was a terrible situation that I thought I would not recover from. I thought I wasn’t smart enough to handle such a business but with time, I pulled myself together because I had no choice,” Zellah explained.
Still on challenges, the young entrepreneur said sometimes ‘paying clients’ are scarce.

“You can have a thousand enquiries in a month with no one actually paying,” she said.

Zellah also shared how her underlying chronic medical conditions affect her job.

“My health is one of the greatest challenges I face on a daily basis. I have quite a number of underlying chronic medical conditions that affect my daily life, sometimes leaving me incapacitated and unable to work. No work, no money. What do you do when you are sick and broke? It ends up feeling like I’m getting back to square one, but I soldier through the pain every single day,” Zellah said.

In as much she has turned out to be an amazing carpenter, Zellah has been at Apex University where she was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery but had to drop out after two years due to financial constraints. Years later, she enrolled at the University of Zambia to pursue veterinary medicine but did not go far due to, yet again, financial difficulties. She ventured into carpentry upon realisation that she is good with her hands.

Zellah shares a view that her father thought she would turn out either a doctor or lawyer, among other professions.

“Both my parents are living in Kabangwe and for most of the time, I know for sure my father thought I would turn out either a doctor, lawyer, or some other fancy career. My dream was not always vividly clear to them when I left home and the relationship became quite rocky, but now they are my biggest supporters,” she said.

Asked if the business is sustainable, Zellah said “with the right capital investments, it wouldn’t have taken as long as it did for me to develop my skills and my business. It has the potential to become a multi million-dollar business with the proper investment towards equipment and workers.”

Zellah dreams of raising enough funds to purchase all the needed equipment, build a fully functional workshop; employ plenty workers and become one of, if not the best, interior design and furniture producing company in southern Africa.
“I also pray the business grows big enough to sponsor my school because I would love to pursue a bachelor’s degree in animal science under distance learning in the near future,” said Zellah.

-The Mast


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.