Peris Mbuthia

Suffering from Severe Acne Inspired Peris to Open a Beauty and Medical Spa

Peris Mbuthia is a wife and a mother of two beautiful children. The journey of the 42-year Kenyan-born from being a chambermaid - a room attendant responsible for cleaning hotel guest rooms and suites - to the head of a beauty and medical centre has been nothing short of stratospheric. Having lived abroad for over 12 years, she came back home three years ago, with only one aim; to revolutionize the beauty industry. The beauty industry in Kenya has undoubtedly grown over the years, comparable only to the rise of the shopping malls. According to the UN Habitat Report of 2015, Africa’s population growth is expected to hit 2.5 billion by 2050. It is no wonder that Africa indeed is a gold mine for the cosmetic business. This research, coupled with other facts like creating employment opportunities among others, led to the rise of Timeless Medical Spa, a spa that bridges the gap between a dermatologist and your normal ordinary spa with only one goal in mind: to provide skin care and skin treatment that would suit all skin types, for all ages, at an affordable price.

Beautiful, bubbly and full of life, Peris is a woman who enjoys life with a big spoon. She loves to read, dance and exercise during her free time, to unwind. Her greatest role model is her mum, as she is her greatest inspiration and cheerleader. Her favourite book that she would recommend everyone to read is ‘Today Matters’ by John. C. Maxwell. A book that she avows has shaped her line of thinking, and makes her wake up every day to do her very best, because today indeed matters. Her story, like any other, starts with a problem. Having suffered from a severe case of acne at the age of 30 due to hormonal imbalance, Peris’ self-esteem was greatly affected. Her acne was so bad that when she went to church with her family, she would drop them off and not enter the building, because her face was all messed up. She spent countless of days hiding under the covers of her sheets. Acne had beaten her down so bad, and being light skinned did not do justice to her at all. It also did not help that while trying to deal with the issues she battled inside, she needed to be strong, to be a role model for her two beautiful daughters, and to model that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder and how you look on the outside should never dictate who you are on the inside. Through it all she suffered silently. Her turnaround quickly came when she was basking in the glorious warmth of the Mombasa town, a holiday trip she had taken to get the much needed rest and a break from the gloomy weather back in Canada, when her face broke out in severe proportions. She was in dire need of a quick fix and much to her disarray, she was unable to find a trained beauty aesthetician who could put her back together! She went back to Canada, registered back to school to study medical aesthetics, and that is where her passion for skin care came about, leading to the birth of Timeless Medical Spa.The Timeless Medical Spa Team

The premise was simple: to offer affordable skin care solutions, as she came to discover that many people were suffering from skin conditions with no remedy in sight. The idea: create a bridge whereby people can come in a clinic that looks like a spa, and get cutting edge treatment using non-invasive machines with organic products, thereby enhancing their beauty naturally. She went for organic products because, having tried all sorts of creams and oils on her face to no avail, she knew the realities of chemicals and how harsh they could be to a face. “I never offer products to people I have not tried myself,” she says. It gives her the confidence to recommend the product to others.

But her journey at Timeless Medical Spa has not been easy. Having finished her medical course in Canada as a beauty aesthetician, she began her research on opportunities where she could practice her art, particularly here in Kenya, and five years later she had the plan. With blessing from her family, as this meant leaving them behind in Canada and coming back to Kenya, she was all systems go. She remembers purchasing equipment worth 15 million not really knowing where she was going to put them, as she had no location yet, and coming back home with the hopes of setting up a lucrative business. She was green in the industry, and having come from a country where systems work, she was not prepared for what awaited her. What she thought would take less than three months took close to a year.

Peris Mbuthia “I never offer products to people I have not tried myself.”

Finding a location seemed impossible, as she wanted a central location that attracted people from all kind of walks of life, and everyone entrepreneur knows that location is key. With this in mind, Peris found space at the Lavington Mall and settled there. She had a few false starts as her interior construction designers were a no show, losing 5 million in the process. It almost seemed helpless. Her family back in Canada were ready to receive her back home, as they saw the strain the business seemed to be putting on her, and to be honest she was ready to go back home too. It took her mother to tell her that she needed to carry on, to move forward, she had already come this far, and the only place she could go from there was further up. She decided to try again, and luckily for her, she got an interior designer who was genuine enough to complete the job, despite many changes and adjustments that they had to make along the way.

Eventually she was open for business. Frustrations, tears and 20 million later, Timeless Medical Spa was established at the 6th floor of Lavington Mall. The spa offers a variety of treatments ranging from your normal beauty treats of facials, mani-pedi, to more complex yet much needed services like body contouring, detox and acne treatments. Clients get services like skin relaxing, renewal and revival of one’s beautiful skin to perfection, using safe, effective and non-invasive cutting edge technology. The spa also deals with acne, skin tag removals, laser/electrolysis hair removals, non-surgical face lifts, lumicell non-surgical body contouring and photo rejuvenation. The services are only offered after a detailed skin analysis where one is checked using a specially-designed machine to determine their skin type, the damage and its cause. They are the sole distributors of La Cure Beauté products, an organic product fit for every skin type, be it African or Western.

Getting her staff took another toll on her. Even though she had deployed the use of a human resource agency, the final product was not what she was looking for. They were not a perfect fit for her business; they were with her for a month and then they all left, this after she had paid the HR agency. She then sought on her own, through word of mouth and referrals from friends, and with that she was able to get staffs she could work with, who have been with her till date. A team of seven; an office manager and beauticians. As they grow and expand she plans to increase the number, but for now, seven works. Coincidentally that happens to be her magical number too!

The biggest lesson learnt as she begun was that, be careful on who you share your ideas with, because some listen out of malice and try and replicate your idea. Another key lesson that revolves around staffing is that just because someone has the highest grades doesn't mean they are the right person for the job. “Hire people who are passionate about your brand,” she insists, “that’s the only way to have committed employees.” The industry is highly competitive, Peris admits, “We are many out there, and there’s a non-negotiable need to put your best foot forward daily.”

However misconception remains the greatest foe to her business growth. Most people to date, when they hear the word spa, they think of it as a luxury and not something someone needs. Therefore they ignore it altogether, not realizing the benefits of a spa, and its usefulness to rejuvenation and revitalization of the face, skin and body. Her location also gives the impression that her services are expensive, and I must admit that I too had fallen for this trap. However on further inspection, for only Kshs.1,500 one can get a good spa treatment. Another misconception that sometimes worries Peris, and whenever it happens, she is never sure what to do, is that some people think she is of Asian ascent. So they come to the spa with the hopes of finding an Asian community attending to them, only to find a well-meaning African community. This is always an awkward moment, and most of the time, they leave without trying out her services.Some of The Timeless Medical Spa services and products

Three years later, Peris looks back and she is happy she started this journey, for truly what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. She laughs and shakes her head, as if in wonder. We are meeting at her office, and the crew for Skin Therapy, a show that airs on KTN has just left. She soon will be a guest at the show. “I can only thank God,” she tells me, “for it is only through Him that I have been able to achieve a lot, and I owe my success totally to Him.” Her marketing strategy has been simple: social media. However when she was making her debut into the Kenyan market, she used all the traditional methods of advertising. She used posters, billboards, placed ads on TV, radio and print and engaged herself with the mainstream media. However social media takes the laurel since most of her customers reach her through the digital platforms.

As I see sip my coffee, before we conclude the interview, Peris quickly shares three tips with me. “When it comes to skin care products,” she says, “1. Always read the ingredients of the product you are buying, as not doing so can lead to severe breakage of your skin, 2. Never forget to look at the expiry date of any beauty product you are buying, for yes, they do expire and when they do, trust me, the repercussions of applying expired make up on your face are very severe. 3. Correct ways of lightening your skin exist. You see most people do not know this, so they go and buy soaps and oils that promise them a quick fix within 7 - 24 days, only to regret much later in their years, when their skin starts to looks old and sagged, and their knuckles belie their true colour. I could share this third tip with you, but what fun would I be if I don’t let you walk to Timeless Spa all on your own and let you discover this important secret all by yourself!”

Today Peris recons there are some limits to her ambitions. “We don’t launch something because everyone else is doing it,” she states. “We respond to what our customers want.” Of her five and 10-year plans, Peris shrugs laughing, “I honestly don’t really know!” Like the trusted hairstylist, she’s waiting to hear what her customers ask for.

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Peris Mbuthia

 

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Diana Ashley

 

Diana Ashley is "A Fearless influencer of society.
Book lover. Coffee lover. 


You can check me out on 
https://thebookswag.wordpress.com"


Esther Kairo

From Training Nannies to Running a Successful Bed and Breakfast

Every change has a story is a common phrase shrouded with mystery, one that every person dreams to share with the world. When Esther Kairo first quit her job, the uncertainty of the future loomed, despite her good reasoning for leaving gainful employment. She was going into unknown territory and exciting as that was, she could not ignore the mystery within.

Esther Kairo, a married mother of three, left gainful employment two years after getting into it and immediately ventured into the business world.  Having been brought up by a mom who over the years engaged in various businesses, Esther was sure she was making the right call. Her first stint was a common and highly praised business venture by most business newbies; a DvD library. Along the way she became a distributor for MyJobsEye cards. She later sold off the library and started a nanny and housekeeping training and placement facility with two friends. Demand for trained domestic workers was and still is high. However as a result of the severity of the business challenges, Esther decided to move away from said industry. They say third time’s is a charm, and that is where Esther found hers; her third business enterprise, Magnolia Pine bed and breakfast. Three years later, she lives to tell the tale.

Esther Kairo Hannah Wanjiru
Anne Waithera Rose Vike

Transitioning from a training school to a bed and breakfast was not as challenging as Esther had anticipated. Injecting money from their personal resources, they refurbished, furnished and equipped the premises. They also retained their staff, who were well versed in the skills needed in housekeeping and cooking for the guests.

They had actualized an idea and they had a facility, staff and proper amenities; next came the marketing bit. As a trained marketer – she holds a B.com degree majoring in marketing from the University of Nairobi;Esther knew a thing or two on how to sell her business to the world. She engaged the online booking platforms, took to directly contacting organizations that have visiting employees or clients and told the taxi guys around the neighbourhood that she had a bed and breakfast, in case any of their clients needed one. The online booking platforms proved twice as effective as she got most of her clients from there, the taxi guys came in a close second and referrals from previous guests came in third. The marketing strategy was working.

Along the Way

Having no prior experience in the hotel industry, Esther Kairo, Hannah Wanjiru and Josephine Waithera had a lot to learn, and fast. They notably discovered that the conventional ways of creating awareness for a business were not working for them and surprise, they were also affected by low seasons. “We never saw that coming,” says Esther. “For some reason we thought a bed and breakfast would be different.”

Aware of the immense potential for their kind of business, they embraced patience and persistence. Soon, finances were tight as the capital they first injected did not fulfil all they wanted to do. The facility had to undergo a facelift and an upgrade to fit in with what their guests required. But turning back and giving up was not an option. Besides, they were mentally prepared that the fruits of their labour were not going to be instantaneous.

Magnolia Pine’s team is lean, small and effective. Of the three partners, Hannah has undertaken a course in hotel management and manages the day-to-day running with Esther. Josephine is in full employment. They have two staff members; Rose Vike is in charge of housekeeping and Anne Waithira is responsible for the kitchen. They trained them in various aspects of their departments over the years to upgrade their skills. Together the team is able to give the best to their customers.

Magnolia Pine bed and breakfast

How They Keep Floating

“When things get thick as they sometimes do in business, two things can happen,” says Esther, “one can choose to either close shop and go home, or to take a step back, evaluate and continue moving. We chose the latter! Keep moving!”

One of the effective ways they discovered to get their juices flowing and face whatever challenges is to take a well-deserved break. Equally helpful is recording their business journey and celebrating milestones. “You would be surprised at how far you’ve come in your journey and also be motivated on how far your journey could go. With these things in mind, we kept floating, navigating through, and now three years later, here we are!  Still swimming,” Esther asserts.

Given the breadth of the industry, they needed to distinguish themselves to keep afloat. They don’t compromise on beds and beddings. They underwent training on hotel service etiquette to improve on customer service and response to complaints or dissatisfaction. Being small works to their advantage as they interact with guests within reason, making them feel their hosts are out to ensure their stay is as pleasant as possible.   They throw in the free value added services factor, an old time classic that never grows old.

The dinning room at Magnolia Pine bed and breakfastThe sitting room at Magnolia Pine bed and breakfast

Making Partnerships Work

Having heard stories of partnership gone sour many times, Esther recalls being wary at first when she decided to partner with a couple of friends. Three years later though, they have managed to stand strong by observing a couple of rules and guidelines.

The first guideline has been to know their boundaries. The three friends try not to mix personal matters with business. Each person has their job description based on strengths and abilities, and they try as much as possible to honour that, for they all know if one does not do their part, the boat will sink. As a result they keep each other accountable in their responsibilities and duties.

“Picking our battles wisely is also a key guideline we have employed in our partnership formation,” says Esther. “Knowing when an issue is worth fighting about and when to back down has helped us navigate the partnership challenges well, leading to mutual respect.”

Like in a marriage, trust and transparency are key for a partnership to work. Everything should be open to scrutiny and no offence should be taken when queried about anything to do with the business. It's also important to understand the duties of your partners and finally, an auditor helps.

On lessons and advice

The biggest lesson the three friends have learned is that plans are just plans. They should be flexible because sometimes the market or political conditions change and you need to rework your model to suit the environment. “I have to be easily accessible as situations do arise that need my personal intervention,” she observes. “My business is a big part of my life and cannot be disregarded even if I am on vacation. Looking back, my only regret would be that I did not start the business sooner.”

To fellow entrepreneurs Esther urges to do all the necessary research and legwork before starting any venture. They should also bear in mind that they need to be flexible and able to adapt to the constant changing world; and sometimes to think on their feet.

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Esther Kairo
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Contact Magnolia Pine 

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______________________________________________________________________

Diana Ashley

 

Diana Ashley is "A Fearless influencer of society.
Book lover. Coffee lover. 


You can check me out on 
https://thebookswag.wordpress.com"