I sell beauty, health and wellness

Nighat Chaundhri

Nighat Chaundhri demonstrates how to use one of her products at one of her outlets.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ms Chaundhri started Beauty Quest, her first beauty and body wellness enterprise 39 years ago at the Sarit Center.
  • She has invested in high tech machines which she uses for body wellness and facial beauty treatments.

Appearance can be deceptive. Looking at Nighat Chaundhri, one would think that she is in her fifties, yet she recently turned 70.

It is not by chance that she looks younger than she actually is. Talking to Powering SMEs at her most recent business, Tranquility Wellness Center and Spa in Nairobi, she explains how a desire to lead a healthy life motivated her to start a beauty and wellness enterprise. The business is almost clocking 40 years, and sells beauty and health.

Having worked in the beauty industry for years, Ms Chaundhri has seen it all, witnessing the full evolution of Kenya’s beauty industry into the multibillion-shilling commerce it is today, from a tiny sector in the 1980s when society did not consider beauty and body wellness a priority.

She started Beauty Quest, her first beauty and body wellness enterprise 39 years ago at the Sarit Center. The business set up had combined services such as gym, sauna, Jacuzzi, hair and a beauty salon offering manicure and pedicure and other beauty-related services.

Nighat Chaundhri

Nighat Chaundhri demonstrates how to use one of her products at one of her outlets.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

“When I started, we used very basic beauty products such as the steamer to do a steam facial, waxing for hair removal and did very basic manicure and pedicure. The technology we have today was not there,” she recalls.

That was then.

“There have been many changes since and the magnitude of the evolution of technology within this industry is mind-boggling. The nail industry has especially grown. Thanks to technology, from products to equipment, you can have the kind of nails that you want, from the length, shape and colour. 

"The hair industry has also evolved so much that there are numerous products and styles that have come that could not have been imagined in the 1980s,” says Nighat.

In January next year, her business at the Sarit Center will be 40 years old, and celebrating with her, her longevity in the industry, will be clients she has walked the journey with over the years. The entrepreneur, who is a beauty therapist, told Powering SMEs how a long life in the beauty industry has enabled her to identify more ways to stay young.

She has developed new products and services as she sought solutions to challenges triggered by ageing.

“Ageing with my clients, it was only natural that I research on products that suited us. Some started looking after their health in their 30s, others in their 40s, so I had to look for treatments that would accelerate collagen production, in turn reduces wrinkling,” she says.

“You sometimes find girls in their 30s, or even 20s, with wrinkled skin, yet there are much older women with few or none. I am 70, and if I was all wrinkled up, my clients would doubt the treatments I am selling. Now I can tell my clients to look around my eyes, my forehead and even my neck, these areas are still smooth,” says the entrepreneur.

She has invested in high tech machines which she uses for body wellness and facial beauty treatments, as well as comfortable rooms that clients can enjoy these services in.

Among the unique services clients ask for include the Hammam Body Scrub and the Moroccan Bath, where a client spends some time in a room infused with special steam for a couple of minutes, after which a therapist applies black ‘Moroccan soap’ on the body to get rid of dead skin. This leaves one with moisturised skin, according to Nighat.

There are also machines that help break down fats, while tightening the skin. She also offers special types of massage for pregnant women. Besides these are normal services such as manicure, pedicure, waxing and hairdressing.

To stay up to date with the most recent technologies and products within the beauty industry, Nighat says every year she attends international beauty exhibitions. That becomes her starting point on new skills with which to run in her business. She also gets to identify the new machines and technologies in the business, keen to remain on top.

Over the years, she has been intentional in adding onto her knowledge, such as improving efficiency of internal body parts by stimulating external parts of the body.

Nighat Chaundhri at her beauty shop in Lavington, Nairobi on April 4, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

With services ranging between Sh2,500 and Sh10,000, her clients are from all walks of life and vary in age.

For instance, her youngest clients are three to four-year-old girls who visit mainly for hairdressing services, while the oldest are in their 80s.

Looking at the kind of clients she serves, she says it is proof of the evolution Kenya’s beauty industry has undergone over time, recalling that when she started her business, her services were only consumed by the elite.

“But I think it was a bit too early for Kenyans to embrace beauticians because then, people were not really into exercising and not very conscious about health and diet. There have been many challenges along the way, but on the whole, it has been quite a good journey,” she says. 

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