From the first time she saw a hint of acne on her face, Mumbi King has been keen to find a means of getting rid of it.
Unfortunately, it only got worse over time until she finally got her problem diagnosed and found it wasn’t only acne that she suffered from. It was an exotically-named skin disease, [Ionthyosis Vulgaris] which made her skin tough and unappealing.
“I was still an undergraduate (at the University of North Hampton in UK] when I told my friends I’d one day start a business making skincare products so that other women and girls wouldn’t have to struggle as I did,” Mumbi tells the BDLife.
Today, this blossoming and pragmatic woman entrepreneur not only has a business that formulates oils, kinds of butter, and gels that work wonders on women’s skin. She also just started up a new line of facial care products for men that she has named Ndevu.
“It was my fellow Rotarian Dr Manu Chandaria who challenged me, after hearing me speak about Kezula, my skincare business for women. He asked me when I would start a company catering to the cosmetic needs of men?”
She now has several products in the pipeline for men’s skin and body care.
Mumbi is just 25, but she has already started several businesses that she’s researched and developed from scratch. She is also leading a basic business training course for women who are former felons to help them re-integrate back into society after they’ve completed their time in jail.
‘It’s a three-week programme on how to start up a skincare business of their own,” Mumbi says.
But even as she finds that work fulfilling, her priority is still to formulate new skincare products which are made with organic African ingredients exclusively, items like mango butter, Kalahari oil, and Aloe Vera gel.
“I’m also developing a new line of body care products that I call Ekhaya, which is a Zulu word for ‘home’,” she says.
“During the Covid-19 lockdowns, people couldn’t get to their spas. So my idea was to create organic products that can easily be used at home,” she adds.
The first products in this line include a body wash, moisturiser, and scrub as well as a foot soak and balm. She says they are all based on her research and development.
“I’ve spent hours developing my skin and body care lines,” she admits. But she still feels she has more research and development to do to address all of women’s skin care needs.
Having returned to Kenya after completing a Master’s degree in ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management from the University of Liverpool in 2019, Mumbi arrived just in time to find Covid-19 coming to Kenya. But she was already on her way to setting up her first business.
“Part of my Master’s programme involved developing a business plan. I’d already decided to create a skincare company that catered to African women using indigenous African ingredients,” she says.
Western concepts of beauty
She understood that most Kenyan women are still oriented toward Western concepts of beauty and skin care. “But I felt the time had come for women to turn tastes around and appreciate our African products,” she says.
Admitting that she’s got a rebellious streak in her, she says it’s partly due to the struggles she’s had to face in her youth. Her parents had their challenges, leaving Mumbi little choice but to become a strong, resilient and organised ‘adult’ from an early age.
She was fortunate to have loving grandparents who helped her get through university and provide her with wise advice and loving concern.
“My grandfather told me he would help me get an education so long as I worked hard and stayed humble and kind,” she says adding that his commitment to her education is what enabled her to get her Bachelor’s degree in International Business and travel to various countries as part of her academic studies.
Mumbi has also found time recently to start up a digital marketing firm that she’s named Manda after Manda Bay near Lamu.
“Digital marketing is one of the ways I promote Kezula,” she says pragmatically.
“But most of my business comes through referrals, meaning by word of mouth since my clients are satisfied with the results that Kezula products provide them.”