Eunice Muriuki, 35, runs SimplyMe Boutique which restores feminity to breast cancer survivors. She speaks to Shirley Genga about the inspiration behind her business
I love working with people that’s why I am an Operations Administrator at Remote Medical International Kenya. However, I am a trained accountant with a degree on the same, but I quickly found out that it was not for me as I am an outgoing individual.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2011 and I lost one of my breasts to the disease. The hardest thing to find was a bra, let alone a breast prosthesis (artificial breast). Some may ask, isn’t a bra just a bra. They are not the same thing, let me explain. To a woman who has lost her breast(s), she uses a bra with pockets on the inside to hold the breast prosthesis (artificial breast) so it does not fall off. So SimplyMe Boutique was born out of a desperate situation. I thought to myself if I can’t find a mastectomy bra and a breast prosthesis, how many women are going through the same?
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
In 2012, I started SimplyMe Boutique. It was very small. When other patients asked me where I got my mastectomy bras and breast prosthesis, I told them I could supply it to them. SimplyMe was launched officially in 2014. I started taking it seriously around 2015 when I saw its growth potential. SimplyMe in one sentence, or two words rather, is “restoring femininity”. Most women identify themselves as being women by their bust (breast). When a woman loses one or both of her breast(s), she feels less of a woman, and this may lead to her becoming withdrawn from family, friends and society.
RUNNING A START-UP
When I started, I thought it would be all fun and games, but being an importer, the forex exchange took me by surprise. Then once I rented some space for a store in the CBD and had employed someone to take care of the business development, I realised I had to make enough sales to cover all these costs and it was not easy. Nonetheless, with hindsight, this was the fun part of being an actual entrepreneur. I also got to meet family and friends of clients who assured me that what I was doing was actually making a difference in someone’s life. That was encouraging.
WHERE I AM NOW
My business is still very much capital intensive and we have not broken even yet. But we can say, yes, we have definitely grown and not just locally. We serve clientele in the East Africa region that is Uganda and Ethiopia, and will soon be expanding into Tanzania.
My business clientele is made up of women who were once broken but they are the strongest women I have met. Their spirit is admirable, although they have gone through a traumatising health experience, they still do what needs to be done; that is to be fully functional members of society.