Anthony Karanu, the self-taught barber who owns a beauty salon with a staff of 50


Barbers Dechu and Rotation, are some of the young men employed at Mintos Saloon and Barbershop in Mwembe Tayari in Mombasa.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Anthony Karanu, or ‘Mintos’, as he is popularly known, is a self-taught barber, the proprietor of two barbershops located in Mombasa and Nairobi, a business that has employed 50 people.

“I never attended any beauty school, this is a self-taught art. I was employed for two years as a barber in Mombasa, and would save part of my salary, savings I later used to open my own barbershop,” says Mr Karanu.

After leaving his job, he partnered with a close friend to open their first shop, named ‘Mintos Dimples’. The friend focused on nail services while he did the haircuts.

But it was a short-lived dream because the partnership did not last, and they parted ways.

“We started getting more traffic and the space became too small for both of us. Since it was his shop, I left and opened mine. That was the start of my journey,” he explains.

Raised by his mother, Karanu says he looked up to her as his role model.


Karani is the owner of this business which has created employment for 50 people in the hair and beauty industry.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

“My mother worked in a salon, she is one of the reasons I joined the industry,” he comments.

He saw a vision then and went ahead to implement it.

Business opportunity

“First I did some research since I was not born and raised here in Mombasa. When I ventured into the beauty industry, I saw a huge gap in the dreadlocks services. Only one barbershop was doing dreads in the area, so I knew that it was a good business opportunity,” says Karanu.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic was reported in the country, he ran two barber shops in Mombasa, with one employing 15 people.

“As our clients increased, the space became small and I decided to open another branch, which meant employing more people," he says.

And then Covid-19 came knocking.

“The government introduced the one-meter distance directive, and since I had many clients, I had to open another branch to comply with this directive. Unlike other businesses, barber services were doing well during the lockdown,” he says.

Mintos Saloon and Barbershop

Mombasa's faceless barber - Unkown the Barber, attends to a client  at Mintos Saloon and Barbershop in Mwembe Tayari. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Eventually, he consolidated his businesses under one roof to run them more efficiently, moving all the services at the Mintos Salon Spa located at Mwembe Tayari Naivas in Mombasa.

“The new shops entail Mintos Royalty Salon, Nail Bar and Barbershop,” he says.

Among the services offered are the popular sista locks, artificial locks, dreadlocks, braiding/cornrows, hair relaxing, pedicure, manicure, facial, body scrub and body massage among other beauty regimens.

Last year, he felt the need to expand and tap into a new market and opened a branch in Nairobi, which is located opposite Nation Centre in Kimathi Street.

“I feel more motivated when I see young people employed and working hard. I want to create as many jobs as possible for the future generations,” he says.

Currently, he has employed more than 50 people, the oldest being 40 years old.

Artificial dreadlocks

Aside from his employees, he has also employed his mother, who works with a group of five women based in Eldoret, to supply his business with artificial dreadlocks, which they produce themselves.

He has also introduced his wife to the beauty industry. She joined the business this month and runs the Mintos Royalty Salon, which, among other services, specialises in permanent make-up services, such as ombre brows, micro blading brows, lip blush and stretchmarks cover, which costs Sh15, 000.

 “In a day, we can serve 30 to 50 clients,” says Karanu, adding that part of the money he earns goes to charity.

“I love charity. I believe if you help the needy you shall be rewarded, no act of kindness, however small, is wasted,” he points out.

His advice to the young generation?

“Your talent is your key to success.”