Rather than pigeonholing herself into one business, Phoina Wambui is actively capturing a variety of opportunities that serve as an extension to her brand.
To put it in context, Phoina sells premium hair, owns a one-stop salon and hones her skills at her beauty academy.
This year, however, her eyes are set on taking over the cosmetic market share after a successful star-studded launch of her shop a few weeks ago.
Business, however, has not always been an easy journey, having begun as a fruit salad seller in the estate to pursuing a communication career that was short-lived.
“When I was in college, I started working at Pamoja FM in Kibera. It was hard,” the journalism and communication graduate says.
After the short stint, she got employed working for a car tracking company and it was there her make-up journey was born.
“A friend opened a photography studio called Fullhouse in Hurlingham. I took a small space there and created my own make-up studio and I remember my first celebrity client was Janet Mbugua. She was so nice, good vibes,” she reminisces.
Describing herself as a shy person and having turned down an opportunity by one of the major media houses in Kenya to be on TV, she says her first love was nails.
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“I was doing nails before I did make-up. I used to love doing my nails a lot and one day I went to Sam of AweSam Nails and told him I want to learn how to do nails. He’s the one who taught me and I took a station at World Business Centre. I started doing that, but I was not good, so I transitioned to hair,” she says.
Determined not to give up, she got into hairstyling and soon after make-up became second nature. With borrowed capital of Sh10,000 from her mother, she bought a make-up kit and that was the beginning of another business.
“When I used to do make-up for clients and their hair didn’t look good, I would touch it up. I realised I could do both. After doing my research I started importing hair and Phoina Hair was born,” she says proudly.
“For me, it wasn’t about having the biggest salon in Nairobi. I started with what I had, my skills and a make-up kit. Clients are more important than having a big salon that can go out of business,” she shares.
“Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and don’t be too quick to give up. If I did, I wouldn’t be where I am. I want to mentor young girls in a positive way, especially my students who attend my classes.”
Despite the roadblocks and delays, she cannot wait to share to the world what she has been working on.
“This is another baby. I have four products I’ll be launching. Right now I have a lipstick line in seven beautiful shades, eyeshadow palette with all my favourite colours, eye lashes and highlighter. Mid this year I will add more products because I also want to get into skincare suitable for black women,” she says..
“I had to travel to get a good manufacturer and supplier. Consistency is also a major concern. Then when we wanted to start, corona happened, which slowed the business a little bit because we were to do this earlier. But God’s timing is the best,’’ she says.
Away from business, Phoina loves to party, travel and go out of town with friends to unwind.