Making jewellery, gifts and toys with the help of a CNC wood working machine
Najla Kevrić invested her small savings in buying a CNC machine. A year and a half later, she hardly manages to prepare all the orders from her clients on time.
Instead of starting a new life in one of the Western European countries where she planned to move with her husband and two daughters, the 28-year-old Najla Kevrić invested her small savings in buying a CNC wood working machine. A year and a half later, she hardly manages to prepare all the orders from her clients on time, made through her brand K King Design, which she registered as a company last summer.
Wooden piggy banks, didactic materials for learning letters and numbers, room decorations and personalised wooden posters are just a part of products offered by K King Design, which are being shipped across Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to USA, Austria, Germany and elsewhere.
„It all started with key chains and I thought it will remain at that. But then I created a decoration for doors – a big letter with a name of a child, and everything started going. I started making personalised baby boards, for example, with titles about the birth. Those personalised items are a major success because you cannot buy that everywhere, so I am focusing on that,” Najla says. “If someone told me I would succeed in doing all of this in a year, I would tell them they are out of their mind. I didn’t expect to have at least 300 orders I have to make each month.”
K King Design is one of 15 small women-owned businesses supported through BizUp, a project implemented by Foundation 787 and UN Women BiH with the financial support of the United Kingdom government. Through mentorship work and financial support, Najla is working on expanding her offer and defining how to present her products and the whole business.
Even as a high-school pupil in the town of Jablanica, Najla made handmade jewellery. Later, after realising where her creativity took her, she decided to drop the construction engineering studies in Mostar and dedicate herself to what her job is nowadays.
Except for jewellery, some of the first items she made and sold were personalised key chains which she used to make from wood. Most of the materials and semi-finished product she ordered from an intermediary who made the wooden key chain by machine cutting and engraving. Since her husband Aner already worked as a CNC operator and since their moving abroad plans were not realised yet, they decided to buy a mini-CNC machine that Najla quickly learned how to use with Aner’s help.
„We were on a life crossroads - either to move abroad or to do something here”, Najla recalls. “However, we bought the CNC machine and he showed me how to use it. While I was making jewellery, I would order from a woman from Banja Luka, she was reselling these wooden cut-outs. I would be sending her a list for key chains and she would send me the cut-outs, I would put the key ring there, and that’s it. Now the time has come for me to do all that.”
Aner has been working as a CNC operator for four and a half years, but besides that, he still helps Najla.
„When she has deadlines, I jump in to help with assembling. My daily job involves a CNC machine so I am very familiar with it”, he says. “I liked lasers for a long time and when I taught her to use it, she said ‘I can make good money from this’. As soon as she started to like doing it, I knew I was not needed there anymore.”
„I was always creative and we simply knew that sooner or later it will somehow turn into a business”, Najla says, explaining how their two daughters are her inspiration for toys, decoration and children accessories.
K King Design is continuing to present new products and to expand the offer, and Najla is still working alone. As the business grows, she will be thinking about a possible expansion of the team as well. Through BizUp she heard a lot of advice on how to write a business plan, how to do marketing and presentation of her business and she also met a lot of women entrepreneurs, which resulted in business cooperation. Najla said that over the past several years she faced disbelief and scepticism over her job being a serious one.
„Even today, when I say I have a small company, they say ‘what’s that, that’s nonsense’ or ‘who’s going to buy that’. But, it is important to go in your own direction and not look back, but also to have someone beside you. For me, it’s my husband, who is my critic but also someone who pushes me forward.”
The first incentive for her was the public call “Youth bank” implemented by the Foundation Mozaik and Network of Student Councils of Bosnia and Herzegovina, when she registered as a business. Afterwards, she got into the programme of Foundation 787 called „Investment Readiness“ which helped her with the first investments and financing of her business.
„I work from early morning up to the evening. It is like that when you have a machine at home. Then I feel guilty for sitting around having coffee and the machine just stands there”, Najla says. “I have to set working hours.”
Besides maps of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europe, the most wanted items by K King Design are personalised presents marking the birth of a child, like a wooden poster with personal information, nametags, different decoration for rooms, as well as packages for the first haircut, containing a box with small scissors, a tube for a lock of baby hair and a comb. Wooden piggy banks shaped as houses are popular as well, having a nametag with the child’s name and a hole in the chimney where the money goes. She is also making wall and other decoration, didactic boards, wooden puzzles and other.
This article was made possible within the project “Women Economic Empowerment in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Rebuilding Better” which is implemented by UN Women in BiH with financial support United Kingdom government.