Making money, beautifully
Patience, long hours and hard work have catapulted Esther Wangari to the helm of the city’s beauty industry.
The founder and proprietor of Beauty Point College, who is credited with mentoring fresh talent in the industry, says: “I loathed poverty and was prepared to sacrifice a lot to achieve my dream.”
After completing high school in Kitale, Wangari moved to Nairobi in 1989 to live with her sister in Pangani. Her sister ran a salon and Wangari would lend a hand from time to time.
Realising she could make a career of it, she joined the most famous beauty school of the day — Beauty Boutique Salon and Training School — in 1991 and majored in beauty and cosmetology. Upon completion, she got a job at the college.
However, things were not always rosy as her employer demanded that she work seven days a week.
“She set high targets that required us report to work at 6.30am and leave at 9pm, at times as late as 11pm,” said Wangari who is in her early 40s.
She said it was tough for her as a wife and a mother because she worked throughout the week for the seven years she was in employment.
Were it not for an understanding husband, Wangari is not sure her marriage would have survived.
As a survival tactic, she would delegate duties like finishing braids, setting, washing and blow-drying to younger girls whom she paid using her own money.
As the client base grew, so did the salon’s need to hire more girls.
“That is when I started thinking about getting my own place so that I could hire more girls and get the freedom I yearned for,” she said.
In 1998, she bought a salon from a person who had challenges managing one. She poured all her life savings into this deal, sealing it at Sh500,000.
She transformed the two-roomed salon into a beauty college now occupying four floors at Beaver House on Tom Mboya Street. She has hired 50 people.
The college currently has 100 students, 10 needy ones of who do not pay school fees.
On her monthly income, Wangari says she comfortably pays her employees well while footing utility bills. She says it is a difficult business to operate but the returns are “very good”.