Most people call me Lomole. What most people do not know is that it is actually my surname. Emmanuel Marsuk Lomole is the name given to me on the 1st of May somewhere in the 20th Century. I never really know where to start when introducing myself. I am a doctor in waiting, in my level 5 training at the University of Nairobi, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. I am a musician, written songs and play the guitar in my local church band and in SHAHIDI – a band of medical school classmates. I am multicultural: a South Sudanese, born and raised in Kenya, who speaks fluent French. I am a leader, and a follower – one really is always both. But for purposes of this expose, I am SCROLLS, an entrepreneurial start up inspired by a passion hitherto unmentioned.
SCROLLS is a start-up venture creating the finest in handmade leather journals South of the Sahara, personalised for a touch of who you are as a client. The journey began over 11 years ago. My earliest memory of journaling was a small pocket sized Karatasi brand hard cover book –the black ones with a red spine. Well, it got lost somewhere at home along with all my secrets. The next major milestone I believe was ten years ago. My older brother Daniel got me a beautiful journal. I was hooked ever since and journaling became an integral part of who I am. Over 30 journals later, one of my favourites from my sister Joy, and still high on that first dose. These journals carry my poems, songs I have written, words from travels to a distant continent, my hopes and dreams, speeches I gave as School captain in high school, deep philosophical thoughts, random bus fare calculations, conversations with strangers, sketches and drawings, notes from conferences that I have never read – we are all guilt of it I suppose – really almost everything that is me save secrets and “Dear diary” moments – I learnt my lesson from the journal I misplaced.
The next milestone was a rainy day, even worse, a rainy Monday, in May this year. It threatened to be my worst birthday yet. All until that evening when a friend, June, offered me a Birthday out, and when I received that journal gift, it was the spark long awaited by the fuel inside me. I had always wanted to make my own journals, considering I often didn’t have the money to buy my own. Just to illustrate the point, I come from a family of 9 children, one mama, one papa. We even have a WhatsApp group – go figure. Once so often I hustled for cash to buy my next journal, my sisters would joke that I should take a Kasuku exercise book, give it a fancy cover and good to go.
I made my first journal from spare leather Daniel gave. Showed it to my parents. Priced it with my brothers David and John, took a few photo and posted them on my WhatsApp status and there is all began. That first journal I gifted it in June. Since it has been a rapid evolution of design and ideas, talking to people, taking advice, so many providential events, challenging clients and the growth over a few months has just been rapid.
I honestly did not expect there were as many journal lovers in Nairobi and beyond as I have found out there are. WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Interactions – what I abbreviate as W.I.F.I. are at the centre of all my marketing. I think most start-ups have under-utilized this asset granted freely to our generation – such waste. My customer segments are people looking to give special custom unique gifts to their friends – especially this festive gift season – hint hint J . Secondly is conferences. I have supplied customised gifts for speakers at a Conference in Naivasha. I am also targeting hotels to give branded unique journal gifts to their visitors, company gifts to employees as well. So far the most fruitful segment has been the gifting customer segment.
I think the hardest and most exciting part of this venture is the creation of something new and introducing it into a market hitherto unexposed. Those are two challenges, and two opportunities. It has been exciting defining the product, creating it, standardizing and also exposing it to clients, some who at first mistake it for a purse.
My dream for SCROLLS Handmade Leather Journals is to become a supplier to lifetime clients who will experience the high of having a SCROLL and never go back. Once so often I fancy a SCROLL on the table of a president. Once so often I fancy my grandchild talking about the journals grandpa used to make. In simple words, I intend to be here for the long-run. Standardise, scale and endure.