Just imagine it. A common phrase you’ll hear at many a furniture or interior design store. Prompting you to visualize how that sofa or lamp stand would fit in your living room. But what if you could experience that piece before you bought it? Perhaps curling up with a good book on that reading arm chair with a cup of coffee right there in the showroom. Or having that family meal as you tested out their dining table to see if it’s compatible with your weekly Sunday brunch plans. You could; at Wasp and Sprout.
From afar, Wasp and Sprout may appear to be just a quirky café in the Old Loresho Shopping Centre. But it’s actually a pretty ingenious showroom. Angela Neale began her furniture business in 2014 but faced the stereotypical business dilemma; ‘how do I get new customers?’ You see, Angela’s first customer was herself and her own home. By embracing her hobby and creating a piece, she unknowingly began to market herself. Thus when friends came over, they’d ask her to make pieces for them as well. With word spreading and orders streaming in, she was encouraged to take her hobby to the business level. And that would mean looking further than her pool of friends as her customer base.
So with the help of her husband, Chris Neale, she established her solution in 2015. That is the interactive café you see today. And with an eclectic crowd being lured in with coffee and delectable sustenance, her work finally achieved a wider audience; as it should. Because at a time when mass-produced is the norm, Wasp and Sprout chose the more organic route. A choice made clear even by their name. Wasp – a symbol of the resilience of Africa – and sprout represents new beginnings and growth of their team.
It’s also their stance of eco-friendliness and fair trade that adds to the company’s charm. Understanding that many talented Kenyans lack the platform to promote their craft, Angela decided to empower local artisans through mentoring and training; in addition to supporting their crafts. The showroom just doesn’t support the products of wasp and sprout, the Neale’s also use the space to promote other local brands; giving customers even more bang for their coffee buck. A decision they made, because they know just how hard it can be living off of your passion.
Then there is the aspect of working with recycled wood. Not only is it eco-friendly but it creates the element of exclusivity. Each piece will be different from the next, carrying a different story from its past life. It has a minimalistic design and yet their pieces still come across full of character, thanks to their use of bold colours and prints. From tables and chairs to cushions, it’s surprisingly pocket friendly with a range of KSh1,000 to KSh35,000 (however custom work may exceed this price range.) If you don’t get too wrapped up in your coffee and a book from their mini library, you’ll also get interior design ideas from the way they’ve chosen to work the space. Whether it’s their signature komorera bicycle hanging on the wall, the fisherman basket lamps shades, or to the pops of colour from the miniature cacti centre pieces. There’s so much creativity in the showroom you can’t help but be inspired by it all.
While the showroom doesn’t show you the extent of their work – they can make almost anything from wood – it’s a great way to interact with their products to get a taste of their finish and design style. And remember the importance of creating an experience? They’ve managed to do that through their movie nights, pub quiz nights, yoga brunches and open mic sessions to mention a few. It’s a showroom filled with vibrant colours, vivacious people, beautiful home wares and delicious food; a winning formula to not only make additional revenue but market your work in a striking new light.
Loresho Ridge Road, Nairobi, Kenya | Timing: Mon-Fri: 0800-1700hrs, Sat-Sun: 0830-1400hrs