A touch of colour puts painter on business path
Posted Monday, July 2 2012 at 19:47
When Esther Koomu was growing up, she wanted to become a teacher in a reputable, even famous institution. So when she completed her secondary school education, she had no doubts about what she wanted to do next: Enroll with a teaching college.
“I liked teaching with all my heart and since I came from a humble background, I did a certificate course in teaching,” she recalls.
However, Mrs Koomu, 35, did not get an opportunity to teach after graduating.
Her husband would later sponsor her to study for a diploma in hotel management, after which she landed a job at a hotel in Nyeri.
Even with the new job, Mrs Koomu did not feel settled. In the evening, she attended part-time classes to study conflict management and after one year, she got a job in the office of the Peace Forum at the Central provincial headquarters in Nyeri. But something was missing.
“As time went by, I kept thinking of setting up my own business,” she says.
So she started saving money and two years later, set up an electronics shop in Nyeri town.
The business was not very promising but meanwhile, Mrs Koomu noticed that the men engaged in spray-painting of vehicles at a nearby garage were recording brisk business.
She got curious and would often ask them to show her how they went about the business.
First, she was taught how to mix the paints to come up with different colours that would suit the taste of clients.
According to her trainers, she was adept at learning and within three weeks, she was good to start working, says Osman Gitonga who is among those who coached her.
With the newly-learned skills, Mrs Koomu decided to close down her electronics shop and with some Sh50,000 she had saved, she started her own auto-paints shop at Grogon estate on the outskirts of Nyeri. The area hosts many garages and Mrs Koomu knew her business would attract many clients.
“Although this is a ‘man’s’ job, I believe what a man can do, a woman too can do it, probably even better,” she argues.
The soft-spoken Mrs Koomu has now turned into an expert in auto-paints mixing to the extent that many men who do the same job in the vicinity often come to her for advice.
“She is the only woman in the entire town who does this kind of job. I salute her when it comes to this,” says Peter Kinyua, who does similar work at a neighbouring garage.
Clad in a navy-blue apron and keenly concentrating on her work, one would not tell whether Mrs Koomu is a woman or man until she raises her head.
More surprisingly, she says she is never afraid of tainting her hands or clothes — to her, it is all about doing the best job and making money.
She says she is able to make at least Sh20, 000 a month as profit and this is enough to take care of her family.