Maina Misheck: The handyman who now owns a chain of salons


Maina Mishek runs a chain of salons in Mombasa and Nairobi [Courtesy]

For the better part of his adult life, Maina Misheck worked in a plantation as a handyman, bagging Sh195 daily until his mother told him it was enough.

Maina now runs a chain of salons in Mombasa and Nairobi, which he says did not come easy.

Soon after his mother asked him to stop working in the plantation due to meagre earnings, his sister advised him to learn how to plaiting hair.

In 2015, he joined a technical training institute in Nanyuki. “The idea was to train to become a nail artisan and a barber but then, my passion drifted to hairdressing. I was told that if I can plait hair as a man, I would succeed. I chose to focus on hairdressing,” he said.

Things didn’t quite look good for him even after training. “After the training, I was hired to work on commission, but I was fired after one month”.

“One morning, my employer just told me not to come back. I don’t know why, but I suspect she was threatened by my expertise,” said Maina, who believes that being a man in the hair and beauty industry is enough security.

Maina then sought a merciful employer. Luckily he found one, and after one year, Mr Maina set up his own salon in Nanyuki town. But not long after, this too failed.

The entrepreneur who now employs about 30 people both in Mombasa and Nairobi, had his own share of a rough patch for about seven years before settling down.

At one point, he fled to Isiolo because of threats of piling debts back home. When it got bad, he contemplated suicide, “I had Sh21,000 left, I decided to go to Mombasa, spend that money and then take my life”.

After arriving in Mombasa, things started looking up for him. He says there was a queue of ladies waiting for him to braid them. The salon owner had told his customers to wait for a male salonist.

Misheck Maina doing braids for a customer [Courtesy]

“I was paid Sh7,000 for a three-day job. That money encouraged me. I used the cash to pay debts back home, I felt like my problems could now come to an end.”

Maina says, he felt that it was enough struggle for him, this is after his trial for trying

“I went to a Sacco to withdraw my savings, and that’s what I used to start my own salon. Later, I started doing tours to Nairobi, and after building a client base in Nairobi, I decided to open a branch in Nairobi,” he said.

Maina reckons that the biggest challenge in running a salon is finding the balance between work and family.

“A client wants you any time. They might want you on a Sunday when they are free or at 6am before they go to work,” Maina said.

Another thing is finding an employee who understands the craft. Despite the bias that comes with a man plaiting hair,  Maina says, he does not pay attention to what people think of his job.

He plans to expand his business to other parts of the country, noting that one can start a salon with as little as Sh100.

“Starting a salon is not difficult. It does not require a lot of capital, and you don’t necessarily need a physical location. But what is important, is having a staff that understands your goal,” he says.

An employee who knows how to handle clients, he says is key in running a business. He uses social media to market his work.

In 2019, Maina entered a competition where he competed against women to become the Creative Braider of the Year 2019.

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