What you need to know:
One of the common myths is that reflexology is no different from a foot massage, and that anyone can offer the service, including an ordinary masseuse.
Not many people know that in Kenya, reflexologist must seek approval from the Ministry of Health before offering professional services.
Esther Mukami is an internationally certified reflexologist, and has accumulated 12 years of experience working in Taiwan, Thailand, Dubai, South Sudan and Rwanda and Kenya.
What did you study before you became a reflexologist?
Mine is a journey that started in 2001 when I became aware of how the body responds to different types of therapy. I studied beauty therapy at Aphrodite Beauty Institute and Timeless Beauty College, and then I went to the Watpo Traditional Medical School in Thailand to study human anatomy and physiology. After that, I attended the Rwo-Shr International Institute in Taiwan where I specialised on nerves and muscles therapy.
I have always had a passion for beauty, which is what I studied initially. As part of my training, I was taught how to do massages and as I got deeper into it, I decided to go a step further and study reflexology.
You run a wellness clinic in Kenya. Is it a viable business?
I started the clinic three years ago and I have endured some tough moments, but my team and I have pushed back impressively. We now have several loyal clients who value our services.
In this age where many individuals have cultivated a sedentary lifestyle and eat unhealthy diets, a wellness clinic is definitely viable. We plan to expand and have presence in all counties, and then to become industry giants in East Africa.
Before I started the business, I enrolled for a short course in business management at Enpact, a German institution that offers mentorship to budding entrepreneurs. This helped me know how to manage my clinic, and make sustainable profits from my skills.
Wellness is perceived by many Kenyans as a luxury. Who really needs to visit a wellness clinic and why?
Everyone. New born babies, teens, athletes, professionals and elderly people all need to acquire our services from time to time to improve their health. Reflexology improves blood circulation, and this is important for everyone.
What lessons have you learnt about entrepreneurship over the last 12 years?
Patience is key. Also, all entrepreneurs should be passionate about what they do, and possess high levels of integrity. Professionalism is very important in this line of business, because reflexologists deal with their clients directly, and relate very closely with them.
What advice would you offer young people who aspire to become reflexologists?
First, they should get some background knowledge on beauty therapy, then they must study the human anatomy and how the various parts of our bodies work. Also, they should polish their soft skills because there is a great deal of interpersonal communication involved in this trade. Then, after they’ve taken the necessary training, they can start offering reflexology services under close supervision.
What are some of the misconceptions about reflexology?
One of the common myths is that reflexology is no different from a foot massage, and that anyone can offer the service, including an ordinary masseuse. Not many people know that in Kenya, reflexologist must seek approval from the Ministry of Health before offering professional services.
How is reflexology different from other healing arts such as acupuncture and acupressure?
Reflexologists work by applying pressure with their fingers from the root of the body organs and glands, but other therapists don’t go beyond the body surface. Reflexology focuses on the reflex points on the feet, hands, and outer ears, while acupressure concentrates the pressure on the reflex points of the entire body.
What are some of the challenges associated with this field?
Creating awareness is the greatest of them all. Few people know the difference between reflexology and ordinary foot massage. The other challenge is that there are many quacks masquerading as reflexologists, and this dents our reputation.