Enterprise

Beautician rebuilds slum business after poll violence

beautician

Pedro Otinga works on a customer at the Pedro School of Dreadlocks and Beauty located in Huruma as pictured on October 26, 2021. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Summary

  • The demand for his service is partly due to his skills and pricing.
  • He has three employees earning salaries ranging from Sh8,000 to Sh20,000.
  • He hopes that from his enterprise many others will sprout and save the young people from the many social ills that are common in the slums.

Pedro Otinga has always wanted to start a beauty and hair plaiting training school for slum youth but has had moments of doubt, none greater than when his business was destroyed in the violence following the 2017 general elections.

The business was less than a year old. It did not matter to him that he ran it out of a shack. It was wholly his and his ticket to the actualisation of his dreams long-nurtured during his schooling days at Vera Beauty college in 2016. He had particularly perfected skills on how to braid women and fix locks.

“My beauty and dreadlocks fixing kibanda was destroyed by rioting youth from one of the slums after the elections. The hope of opening a dreadlocks school was still alive and I knew that one day I would rise again,” the 24-year-old businessman said.

Having grown up in the slums, Mr Otinga says it was his understanding of the challenges youths within such settlements face that always powered his ambition to start a training facility to empower them.

But when the same youth destroyed his business, instead of breaking his heart, the act emboldened Mr Otinga.

About a year ago he opened his business in Huruma next to Kiamaiko, Nairobi that also doubles up as a training school for youth.

When The Enterprise caught up with him for the interview, Mr Otinga was a busy man. With up to 10 clients waiting to see him, he had no time to spare.

His days, he said, are always busy- waking up early and sleeping late to attend to his customers who book sessions weeks in advance.

The demand for his service is partly due to his skills and pricing. For instant locks he charges Sh2,000 and takes an hour and a half to fix them, sister locks take 13 hours and cost Sh25,000, artificial locks cost Sh6,000 and take three hours to fix and grafting, which costs Sh6,000, takes a up to five hours.

Mr Otinga has also diversified his business. In 2018 he had gained skills as a massage therapist. He figured that it would be a good add-on service, especially as his clients sat for long hours while their hair was being braided. He also decided to incorporate waxing services.

“After sharpening my skills fully, I decided to partner with a colleague- Molly Achieng’. Things were tough but we had to press on. At that time, our customers were few but we thank God things went so fast,” he explained.

He has three employees earning salaries ranging from Sh8,000 to Sh20,000.

The products used include Molden gel, natural products mixed with avocado, aloe vera, coconut oil, olive oil, beeswax, water and color.

While Mr Otinga’s business has grown immensely, he says he is mostly proud that he is also positively impacting on the slum youth.

He hopes that from his enterprise many others will sprout and save the young people from the many social ills that are common in the slums.

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