Financial engineering graduate creates profitable natural hair products business

Gladys Njoki displays some of the beauty products that she makes.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • From watching many video blogs on YouTube and doing some research online, she decided to try several Do It Yourself natural hair products.
  • She packed her initial hair products in containers she bought from a supermarket, and then delivered it to her first four customers.
  • Today, Ms Njoki operates two outlets, one in Nairobi and another in Eldoret for her Geenylove Natural Hair Products line. To help her run her business, she has employed four people.
  • Most of the blends of oils are locally available with the exception of shea butter, which she sources from Uganda.

Two years ago, Gladys Njoki, 26, was in dire need for hair products that could revive her damaged hair.

Whenever she combed it, she would lose lots of it, leading to thinning, not to mention the dandruff that did not seem to go away.

She had just graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in 2017 with a degree in financial engineering, and like many graduates in Kenya, her search for a job had yielded nothing.

“It is during this period that I started giving my hair more attention. It was weak, and I couldn’t seem to get the right products to correct this,” says Ms Njoki.

From watching many video blogs on YouTube and doing some research online, she decided to try several Do It Yourself natural hair products.

After nine months of faithfully using the products, she begun to notice positive changes. This is what motivated her to create her own hair products. She started with a hair mist and styling butter.

“I experimented with different natural oils such as coconut, almond, olive, black castrol, canola and shea butter. Blending these oils increased the volume of my hair and there was less hair breakage,” she explains.

Post on Facebook

After sometime, she got a job in Westlands, Nairobi, which earned her a monthly salary of Sh16,000, but the job lasted only three months – once again, she was jobless.

Life became unbearable such that she was forced to seek shelter from friends until she had no one to take her in, in fact, once, a friend kicked her out.

A post on Facebook regarding her hair transformation would become the turning point for Ms Njoki.

“I posted before and after pictures of my hair showing the impressive transformation after I started using homemade natural hair products. I did not expect the response I got, neither did I expect that people would want to buy the products I had used, yet they did,” she says.

She packed her initial hair products in containers she bought from a supermarket, and then delivered it to her first four customers.

The feedback was positive, and thanks to word of mouth, her customer base began to gradually grow, making it necessary to seek certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Today, Ms Njoki operates two outlets, one in Nairobi and another in Eldoret for her Geenylove Natural Hair Products line. To help her run her business, she has employed four people.

Currently, she produces a hair growth mist, curling butter, leave-in hair conditioner and organic black soap shampoo.

Most of the blends of oils are locally available with the exception of shea butter, which she sources from Uganda.

Manually wrapped

She uses locally fabricated mixers and coolants to blend the oils and once mixed and left to stand for 24 hours.

They are then packed in either bottles or containers. Afterwards, the stickers are printed and manually wrapped around the containers.

The hair growth mist and organic black soap shampoo come in 500ml and 250ml bottles, while the leave-in conditioner and the hair curling butter are packed in 280ml containers.

“The brand Geenylove came from the word genius. I see my business as a God inspired enterprise since I did not go for any formal training,” she comments, pointing out that her products are suitable for natural and relaxed hair as well as dreadlocks. Also, they are not restricted to women, men too can use them too.

“I am in the process of expanding my line to include hair products for children. In future, I might venture into natural facial products,” she says.

In a month she sells at least 600 to 800 bottles of the hair products across the county, making Sh500,000 worth of sales in a good month.

The young entrepreneur heavily relies on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to market her products.

Diamond Mark of Quality

“Most of my customers contact me through social media and referrals, they place their orders on my page and I have them delivered at their place of their choice.”

She adds: “I love what I do. My desire is to have the Diamond Mark of Quality for my products because I believe in producing quality products that will keep the customer coming back.”

From experience, she says that while investing heavily in marketing will get you customers, if your products are of poor quality, you will lose them.

Her biggest headache is dishonest competitors who poach her loyal customers and use them to market their products.

“I have cases where you walk with a client on their journey of hair growth using our products, but then they end up using the same pictures on another platform to market our competitors’ products. This puts our brand in an awkward situation,” she explains.

In the next five years, the young entrepreneur has her sight trained on expanding her beauty business to the export market.

eojina@ke.nationmedia.com

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I make most of my sales on social media: Gladys Njoki

In a month she sells at least 600 to 800 bottles of the hair products across the county, making Sh500,000 worth of sales in a good month.

The young entrepreneur heavily relies on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to market her products.

“Most of my customers contact me through social media and referrals, they place their orders on my page and I have them delivered at their place of their choice.”

She adds: “I love what I do. My desire is to have the Diamond Mark of Quality for my products because I believe in producing quality products that will keep the customer coming back.”

From experience, she says that while investing heavily in marketing will get you customers, if your products are of poor quality, you will lose them.

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