A beauty parlour on Oginga-Odinga Street in Eldoret town has become popular with women of all ages. At hand is a team of young men and women busy applying makeup and other products on women’s faces, feet and hands.
The beauty industry has been traditionally associated with women but the growing demand for quality services is pushing men into the territory. John Mwangi is such a man.
“Competition is tough, women have an edge in this field but I believe that what a woman can do a man can do too,” said Mr Mwangi. He started the business with very little capital.
“I used the money to buy three bottles of nail polish each costing Sh20 and cotton wool. On the first day I made Sh500 profit; I could not believe it,” he said.
In 2006, when he was starting out, Mr Mwangi moved from one salon to another hawking his services.
“As demand grew I got a lot of calls from clients and decided to set up a salon,” said Mr Mwangi, whose business offers over 40 different services including manicure and body massage.
“Two years into the enterprise, the business started picking up and I took a Sh10,000 bank loan to expand and employed an assistant,” he said. Three months later he went back for Sh20,000 to invest in the venture. The proprietor of Mwangi Beauty Parlor advises upcoming entrepreneurs that they don’t need a lot of capital to power a business idea into a viable enterprise.
He later enrolled for a diploma course in cosmetology to gain skills in the business. And although he credits use of social media for marketing his services, referrals by happy clients are a major boost to the venture, he said.
With a monthly turnover of a bout Sh500,000, the businessman is upbeat. The firm has since grown to employ 57 people in two branches.
“I plan to expand my business to all the 47 counties and employ more than 500 youth,” said Mwangi. Business, he said, peaks during weekends and holidays. To stay ahead in the rapidly changing business Mr Mwangi said he spends a lot of time on the Internet learning about the latest trends in the art of nail and hair styling.
“You must be trendy, innovative and keep up with the latest in the market otherwise you might close shop,” he said. In January, he started Mwangi’s School of Beauty and Fashion Design with 30 students.
And his message to the youth: “We go to school to gain knowledge and become smart; it is time you considered informal jobs which can cater for your needs.”