MY HUSTLE: From job hunting woes to a passion-driven success

Monday September 25 2017

Florence Bomett, 23, is the proprietor of Bliss

Florence Bomett, 23, is the proprietor of Bliss Nail Parlour in Ngong. PHOTO| COURTESY 

By MARION MAINA
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Florence Bomett, 23, is a study in focus and determination. The proprietor of Bliss Nail Parlour in Ngong approached her mother with a well-thought-out business proposal after her job-hunting efforts proved futile.

After sending her CV out to various PR firms and failing to get a response, she started researching on where to buy stock if she wanted to start a beauty-related business, consulting on how to run a business, locating where to set up shop and compiling the budgets. This led to a business proposal which she approached her mother with.

This gesture melted her mother’s heart. Without a moment’s hesitation, she gave Flo the capital she needed to get started and in no time, time the business plan was on an execution roll.

But there was catch. Flo refused a handout from her mother and insisted that it would be a loan.

“Being a last born, I have grown accustomed to dotting from my mother and siblings. When I was pitching the business idea to my mother, I knew she wouldn’t mind giving me the cash with no strings attached. However, I opted to ask for a loan instead of hand-out. I figured I needed that pressure to ensure the success of my business. I am still paying back the loan while growing my business. Luckily mom’s repayment terms are way less stringent than those of any bank.”



Florence and her Mum. PHOTO| COURTESY

Florence and her Mum. PHOTO| COURTESY

She opened her beauty parlour in the first week of February 2017.

Flo’s career choices had taken a long and windy path before landing her back to her first love: fashion and beauty.

WANTED TO BE ON TV

“While in high school, I wanted to study mass communication and be on TV. However, I didn’t want to be a news anchor. I was more drawn to entertainment. Every time Namtero Mdee hosted the Str8 Up show on KTN, I would tune in and just ogle at her. She seemed to be having so much fun on the show. I wanted that.”

Flo consulted with her uncle, a lecturer at Kenyatta University; on the courses to consider for her undergraduate studies in university. She told him about her passion for mass communication and disclosed her fears of being stuck at some news desk writing copy or anchoring news. He advised her to study public relations. Flo heeded this advice and later received an admission letter from Moi University to pursue a Degree in Communication and Public Relations (PR).

But something else caught her attention.

Bliss Nail Parlour is located in the outskirts

Bliss Nail Parlour is located in the outskirts of Ngong Town. PHOTO| COURTESY

“I first learnt about Mwangi’s Nail Parlour in Eldoret town from a close friend of mine. We went there one weekend and I fell in love with the place instantly. You see, I am into fashion. I try out different hairstyles every two weeks or so weeks. I’m also into shoes and I choose them depending on my mood not necessarily my outfit or the occasion. Most importantly, I am a sucker for nails. Walking into Mwangi’s was like visiting the beauty Disneyland! I became a regular customer.”

KINDERED SPIRIT

In third year, Flo met Monica Talai, a kindred spirit who ran a boutique within the university premise called Laika collections while shopping for clothes.
Her relationship with Monica quickly evolved from customer relations to a sisterhood friendship. They would hang out at the shop a lot after classes.

Once in a while, Flo would cover for Monica when she was free. Later, Monica moved the shop to Eldoret town. This did not affect their relationship as Flo always swung by on her way to or from doing her nails.

“Although I enjoyed helping out in the shop, it never occurred to me to get into the fashion business. One day during my field attachment at Ecobank, a colleague noticed my white Chanel handbag. She went ahead to inquire from me how she could get a bag like that for herself. That’s when it hit me.

My eye for fashion had met the taste of my colleague. I figured I would make a kill selling bags to my colleagues and friends. Soon I was in business and it did very well. By the end of my attachment, I had great savings. After consulting and agreeing with Monica on a business arrangement, I purchased a stock of unique trench coats from Gikomba market using the bag- sale savings. When school resumed, I travelled with the coats all the way to Eldoret.”

Bliss Nail Parlour is located in the outskirts

Bliss Nail Parlour is located in the outskirts of Ngong Town. PHOTO| COURTESY

Due to logistical issues, Flo was not able to bring in more stock from Nairobi and the business ceased. She continued to spend more time at Monica’s shop where she learnt how to engage customers and handle price negotiations among many other things. That year flew by and soon she was travelling back home having completed her undergraduate degree.

STARTED LOOKING FOR A JOB

“ I flew back home from school on Friday and on Saturday I was en route to Tanzania on a one week church mission with Christ Is The Answers Ministries (CITAM) Ngong. When we came back the festivities were in full bloom. A soon as the festivities ended, I started sending out job applications to several PR companies. Two weeks later, I had not received a single phone call or feedback from any of those companies. Disappointed, I decided to venture into business. Mwangi’s came to mind and I decided to start a nail parlour. ”
With most of her savings already spent, Flo’s business prospects appeared bleak until her mother came to the rescue by investing in the business idea.

COULD NOT AFFORD SALARIES

Her biggest challenge was that she was not skilled in beauty work. Her experience was based observing Chepsen, her manicurist at Mwangi’s, do his thing. She couldn’t afford salaries at that point. Her great rapport with ladies from a neighbouring salon played a huge part in convincing them to work for her on commission. Florence had to teach herself the art of her business. She observed them keenly and sometimes borrowed book guides from those who had gone to beauty school. Coupling this with YouTube tutorials, Flo has mastered nail art and beauty treatment.

“Business is doing well. In fact, my clients now want hair services too. I will be enrolling in a hair and beauty college soon to learn weaving. I wish to grow Bliss Nail Parlour into a full beauty parlour offering a wide range of beauty treatment services. Once it is stable and with a sizeable number of employees, I will venture back to the world of PR as I also pursue my masters. I really enjoyed studying PR and I hope to practice it in a fun company such as Fly Emirates.”

Bliss Nail Parlour, located in the outskirts of Ngong Town, is quite a remarkable establishment. The space is tastefully furnished with splashes of bold purple paint on its four walls. A large window on one side of the room lets in plenty of natural light and a steady pleasant breeze. It also offers a breath-taking view of windmills dotting the gently cascading Ngong Hills. Soft music wafting through the room completes the parlour’s relaxed ambience.

Flo owes her success this far to her mother, her role model, whom she describes her mother as a pillar of strength for her and her siblings.
The business is profitable. She is able to pay rent, repay her loan and also save some money.

She has no full time employees at the moment. Having learnt the art of her trade, she is able to serve most of her clients. She has people working on commission but this is only when she is overwhelmed with clients. Flo will open her shop as early as 6:00 am and close at 9:00pm when her client schedule demands.

Bliss Nail Parlour is located in the outskirts

Bliss Nail Parlour is located in the outskirts of Ngong Town. PHOTO| COURTESY

The market is great and she is hoping to maximise her earnings by minimising costs such as commissions where she can.

Flo hopes to engage full-time employees from 2018 once she has met her resource pool target. She would them to be on a salary and able to run the establishment in her absence. She aspires to create employment even as she pursues her dreams of a flamboyant career in public relations.

“When I told mom that I wanted to do business, she gave me money and said; start it. I started blindly but here I am now. She believed in me even when I did not believe in myself. I strive daily to make her proud.”