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My Hustle: My salon business boomed in Marsabit after failing in Nairobi

For years, underdevelopment, insecurity and other factors have been blamed for preventing women in pastoral areas from using their abilities to pull their families out of poverty.

Many women could not earn an income or acquire assets that could be used to lift their families’ economic well-being.

But in Marsabit County, 28-year-old Mache Muse Ado has broken through the barriers and leveraged the vanity of others to start earning a living.

In this part of the country, just like many others, women have to look good.

Her business Annumache Beauty Salon’s growth amid high unemployment among many young Kenyans offers a sense of hope in a region where insecurity has been on the rise.

When we visited, the salon was packed with women getting their hair, nail and skin treatments or giving their children their weekly or monthly styling.

Ms Ado explained that the beauty and personal care industry in Kenya is booming, attracting massive investments from young entrepreneurs.

Her assertion is backed by figures showing that the industry has grown by more than 400 percent, with over Sh100 billion in the last 10 years, according to KPMG estimates.

Correspondingly, the growth of beauty products and services is spreading even to small towns in Northern Kenya.

In an interview with the Nation.Africa, she relived her journey in the world of entrepreneurship.

Blossoming enterprises dwindled

“No successful business picked up immediately. You will learn that even blossoming enterprises dwindled at some point, so sticking to it is the best approach,” Ms Ado advises.

After leaving Gikindu Secondary School in 2012, she decided to carve herself a niche in the beauty and personal care industry by joining a beauty college in Nairobi between 2013 and 2014.

She trained as a hairdresser and she opened her first salon in Kiamaiko, Huruma estate, Nairobi.

Upon discovering that the business was not flourishing as much as she wanted, she decided in December 2018 to move it to Marsabit town.

This happened as she grappling with health issues for some time having undergone an operation.

It took the business a year to pick up as she tried to figure out how best to ensure its sustainability, which she considered the cornerstone of its survival.

She reminisced about how she withstood a sequel of stand-alone and business doldrums and appealed to other young Kenyans to have patience as a virtue for business success.

She noted that to build a flourishing business, one needs to take a holistic approach that integrates passion, profit and purpose.

Ms Ado’s main goal is to inspire and support other young women in the region who can create employment opportunities for themselves apart from just celebrating their beauty.

Grow daily

To her delight, her customer base continues to grow daily. Her routine services involve handling at least four clients daily, which earns her at least Sh2,000.

Even locals perceived as conservative have become frequent visitors to the beauty parlour.

Before wedding parties, which take place nearly every weekend in the county, she charges between Sh3,500 and Sh5,000 for makeup and hairstyling, depending on the style.

Her beauty parlour mainly offers blow-dry services, hair braiding and dying, costing between Sh250 and Sh800 depending on the style.

She also offers beauty therapy services such as manicures at Sh400, facials for Sh500, pedicures for Sh700, jell application (normal or waxing) for Sh500, massages and barber services.

Her monthly earnings range between Sh40,000 and Sh60,000 depending on the season.

As her business grew, she saw the need to train other young women who were interested in the beauty and personal care industry.

She has hired two other women to help her when there are more clients than she can handle or when she travels to other parts of Marsabit to meet customers.

Marsabit-based beautician Mache Muse Ado attends to a client in her Annomache Beauty Parlour.

Photo credit: Pool

Ms Ado still hopes to employ more beauticians as she seeks to refurbish and expand her business.

As soon as the facelift is concluded, she also fancies running a training centre in the same premises for local enthusiasts of beauty services.

She warned young people against fixating on white-collar jobs or government employment opportunities, which she said are rare.

“It would be wise if youths just stopped focusing only on office jobs, which have become so rare nowadays, and venture into businesses but with the right attitudes and vision,” she said.

Her major obstacles are constant power outages and water scarcity in Marsabit town.

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