Tell us about yourself
I am a cosmetologist and the manager at Czars and Combs Beauty Salon located along Taveta Road, Nairobi.
Yes. That is someone who provides beauty services. Think of your personal stylist, someone who cares for the condition of your hair, nails. He or she could be a hairstylist, a manicurist, or even a barber. Personally I do manicure and make-up besides selling select beauty products.
OK. Now tell us more about your business.
Oh yes. As I said I am the manager at Czars and Combs where I work with my husband Daniel Muchiri. He started the beauty shop in 2011 and I joined later to manage the business.
So you had practised elsewhere or you joined your husband straight from college?
Yes. I had worked at other executive salons. After completing my secondary education I enrolled at Vera Beauty College after which I worked at Top Stop in Biashara Street, Dhiirens in Westlands and lastly at Tangerine Ink at ABC Place.
Have you ever had a client we might know?
Several. Memorably Eunice Mathu of Parent’s Magazine.
Beauty, and to a larger extent the beauty industry is seen as a forte of the woman. Does this reflect in the ownership?
Well, a few years back, women increasingly owned salons and beauty spas. But these days you find that men are investing heavily in this industry. But that is a good thing. It has just made us more aggressive!
How does the society view the beauty industry. Are people who work in it, especially women respected as in other professions, say law or engineering?
I believe society rates you depending on how you profile yourself and indeed we are respected and most of us have gone to greater heights. I mean look at the women behind the Ashley’s and Vera colleges, to mention just but a few. They are giants of beauty!
Is it competitive?
Oh yes! We have stiff competition in this industry. In our business, my husband and I always stay focused, reading about the industry and new trends and always changing with the times… I always feel I made the right choice.
The right choice in your husband or in terms of career?
(Laughing) He is my biggest mentor. He so loves his job. He is a hair stylist. But yes, I think I made the right choice in this beauty path also.
So how is it working with your husband and would you recommend other couples to work together?
It was a challenge initially. I mean, leaving the house together, working at the same place, seeing the same people… but we soon learned how to focus on the bigger picture – the job, the clients and our staff. And now I can tell you that working together is fun! Working in harmony also helps even with customer relations which of course improves business.
So how did you two happen to have the same career?
I met this guy in college. We didn’t hit off at first. He went on to teach at beauty schools; I went on to work. Then fate brought us back together and as they say the rest is history. Now we have two sons and a business.
Back to the business, does the beauty industry pay?
The beauty industry is amongst the fastest growing industries in Kenya, going with the revenue the government collects. But we would like the government to enact laws on proliferation of counterfeit products in the country. Today, we are forced to import the products from countries like Dubai which pushes prices upwards.
There has been a trend where young people working in the beauty industry learn on the job, what is your take on this?
I would say that with an increasing middle class, Kenyans are demanding for the best quality in dress, the latest gadget and of course they want to top that up with a good look. With the stiff competition, education will set you apart, not only because you will get refined skills, but also on how you present yourself, and how you communicate with your clients. However, I think the Kenyan government should try to emulate countries like Australia and United Kingdom who have advanced levels like hair transplants. This I feel can even be integrated in our universities.
What gives you the greatest pleasure in your work?
Simply seeing a happy client after I have spent time with them to make sure they love their look.
What would you be doing if your were not in cosmetology?
Well, my heart appreciates good interior design and I believe I would have pursued it. But hey, the two are almost similar, don’t you think?
Well, yes and no… but are you always work without play?
Not at all. When not working, I travel a lot with my husband and our sons. We have much fun together. I also occasionally enjoy a drink and a dance with him.