Sylvia Wandia owns a lucrative nail spa and salon in Juja called Pinkyz.
She juggles her business with studies as she is currently enrolled for a Master’s degree in Economics and Finance at Kenyatta University.
The 24 year old embodies passion on economy matters and aspires to be a pace-setter in the world of business and economics in the near future.
She says she draws great inspiration from her mother who never ceases to instil in her love for hard work and the desire to be a financially independent woman.
“I was raised in Isiolo along with my younger brother, Kevin Mutemi. Our parents were civil servants and managed to give us a comfortable lifestyle. We grew up happy carefree children who loved to explore and play in the countryside.
“In 2002, my dad passed away. I was only nine years old but I knew that life was never going to be the same again for us. I watched the distress in my mother’s eyes as she tried to come to terms with the tragic twist of fate. The first few years were tough for my mother but she put up a brave face for my brother and I.
“We never experienced a drastic change in our lifestyle as I had feared. My mother put up rental houses in our vast compound to supplement her salary and see us through school. Her resolve in seeing us achieve our dreams inspires me to date.”
After the death of her father, Sylvia was taken to boarding school at the age of ten. She then proceeded to Don Bosco Girls in Embu for her secondary education. Her mother’s efforts in putting them through school fuelled her ambition to perform well in school which she did, particularly in Business Studies.
Sylvia passed her final examinations, KCSE, securing an admission at Kenyatta University for a degree in Economics and Finance. While waiting to join the university, she enrolled for CPA classes and successfully completed her coursework, after which she undertook an internship at Remu, a microfinance organisation in Nairobi.
Here, she started off as a teller and was later moved to customer service. Her charisma and diligence paid off as at the end of her internship in December 2014, she was offered a full-time job. “I couldn’t believe my luck. Like every other young person, I had dreaded the nightmare of tarmacking (job hunting) after completing my studies. However, after seven months, I handed in my resignation.
“To be honest, resigning was not an easy decision to make. The pay was good and my colleagues were amazing but my heart was restless. I had this yearning to do more. I had been courting the idea of enrolling for Masters for a few months before quitting my job. I am aware that many people pursue further education as they work but I felt that wouldn’t work for me as I couldn’t give my employer 100 per cent. My employer was very understanding and wished me all the best.”
Sylvia’s mother, a staunch believer of education, did not bat an eyelid when Sylvia informed her of the decision to quit working and go back to school. She offered to pay for her postgraduate degree. After completing her coursework in December 2016, Sylvia came home to start writing her thesis project.
“I then realised I had so much time on my hands; writing my project was not as intensive as attending classes. A familiar state of restlessness begun creeping up on me.
“During this time I kept myself busy by visiting an aunt at the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Hurlingham, Nairobi. She had been admitted after suffering a spinal injury during a robbery incident in November 2015. Seven months later, we had a long school break and I spent every day taking care of her. I would do her nails and hair to make her look good and in the process discovered that I really enjoyed our beauty sessions. This is what sparked the idea of opening a nail spa and salon.”
Sylvia took two months of researching on hair and beauty treatments; reading books and watching YouTube tutorials. With savings of about Sh50,000 from her previous job and only three bottles of gel polish, Pinkyz Nails Spa and Salon became a reality.
“My business has grown tremendously since then. I attribute this to sheer determination, perseverance, relating well with people and staying focused. I cannot understate the value of research. As a self-taught beautician, I have had to read and stay updated with trends via magazines, YouTube, social media basically everything I can lay my hands on. Many entrepreneurs fail to realise their dreams due to lack of strategy. Think through the plan before implementing it, for instance one of the things I got right was location.
“The salon is in close proximity with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) whose population is great market for my business. Challenges have been there such as dishonest workers and the usual hangups of a new business, but giving up has never been an option for me.”
Sylvia hopes to grow the spa into a reputable brand which will not only create employment but also make her hardworking mother and role model proud.