Nakuru teacher who failed to get a slot to teach in Primary school turns to repairing shoes for a living

Gladice Kerubo, a committed educator with a 13-year teaching background, found herself at a crossroads when her career trajectory was disrupted by the post-election violence of 2007/2008.

Compelled to abandon her teaching position at a primary school in Kapsabet, Nandi County, Kerubo embarked on an unforeseen journey that transitioned her from the classroom to the realm of shoemaking.

Amidst the chaos, Kerubo sought refuge in Elburgon, Nakuru County, where her husband, a skilled shoemaker, was based. The move was driven by the necessity for safety during turbulent times, unknowingly marking the inception of a profound transformation in her professional life.

Initially, Kerubo’s husband managed a workshop in Elburgon, eventually relocating the trade to Nairobi. Left under the capable guidance of her cousin Moses Arasa, an experienced shoemaker, the workshop became Kerubo’s unexpected classroom for a new craft.

“I started observing my cousin at work, asking him numerous questions about what I witnessed him doing,” Kerubo shared. Sensing her genuine interest, Arasa became her mentor, patiently guiding her through the intricate process of repairing and crafting shoes.

In a remarkably short period, Kerubo transitioned from a mere observer to a proficient shoemaker, showcasing not only the ability to repair shoes but also to design and cut leather for new creations.

The shift from teacher to cobbler presented its challenges, but Kerubo embraced the change wholeheartedly. Leaving behind the familiar education realm, she discovered solace in the art of crafting and the satisfaction of interacting with clients on a personal level.

“In this business, I engage one client at a time, which is easier to manage compared to the large number of pupils I would attend to, not to mention the parents,” Kerubo explained, highlighting the personalized connection she now enjoys with her customers.

Despite the drastic career shift, Kerubo holds no regrets. The intimate client interactions, creative freedom, and tangible results of her work have become sources of fulfillment that surpass the challenges she faced as an educator.

Recognizing the pivotal role played by her cousin in her journey, Kerubo praised Arasa for being an excellent teacher and motivator. Their partnership in the workshop stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit fostering success in any profession.

The duo sources materials from Nakuru and Nairobi, strategically choosing areas with more affordable prices than their local market. However, Kerubo is acutely aware of the stereotypes persisting in her field, traditionally dominated by men.

“There are those who believe that this job is done by illiterate people. For instance, once, a client who had been accompanied by his child warned him that he would end up doing ‘dirty work’ like mine if he did not work hard in school,” she revealed, shedding light on the societal misconceptions she occasionally encounters.