My pen holder project

For this particular item, my inspiration came from a printed paper bag in my locker at work. I did a rough sketch of the bag, got some measurement guides from the Dooney & Bourke brand.

My search for the perfect material took me to downtown Nairobi. The Central Business District is always full of life and you can get almost everything very cheaply. There’s an alternative source of fabric, that is the Eastlands area of the city, but I prefer town because it is easier to access from Westlands, where I work.

I got 2 feet of pink and black faux leather (Rexine), black dye and original leather. In my mind, I had already figured out how the final design would look like, all I needed to do is collaborate with a tailor friend who brought the idea to life.

My pen holder

She normally charges Ksh. 100 per hour, and the total bag work took 2 hours. The pink Rexine cost me Ksh. 700, and the black strips for the handles cost Ksh. 300. The total production cost came to Ksh. 1200. A friend was willing to buy the bag at Ksh. 2000, so I would cover all the costs and minimum profit.

For the whole sale version of the handbag, I had to go for lower cost materials from, an online marketplace. This significantly made the production cost lower. For two feet of Rexine, I forked out only Ksh. 100, made the bag at Ksh. 45 per hour for less than half of the initial time. The total cost plus profit ended up being Ksh. 218.5. With the retail price being Ksh. 1800, I can still sell the bag for Ksh. 218.5 and make a profit of Ksh. 28.5.

Here’s a breakdown of the bag production estimates:


Pen holder production cost #1
Two feet of Rexine Ksh. 300
2 hours at Ksh. 100 Ksh. 200
Total production cost Ksh. 500
15% profit Ksh. 75
Total cost plus profit Ksh. 1075
Estimated retail price Ksh. 1800


Pen holder cost #2
Two feet of Rexine (online) Ksh. 100
1 hour at Ksh. 45 Ksh. 45
Total production cost Ksh. 145
15% profit Ksh. 21.75
Total cost plus profit Ksh.311.75
Estimated retail price Ksh. 350

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