Maureen Waititu, who is in her late 20s, tells Shirley Genga how she turned her passion for beautifying things into, Lifeandmau, a business that offers customised and unique hair pieces for the Kenyan woman
I have a degree in law. I am waiting to get admitted to the Bar. However, I am currently working for a corporate branding agency as a Client Executive Personnel.
My mother taught me to always use my talents and one of them has always been my ability to make beautiful pieces out of anything. Since I was a little girl, I have always loved to alter things and recreate them in a way that was beautiful in my eyes. This is how I taught myself how to sew and I used my skill to alter my clothes, and if I was not doing that, I was always changing my hairstyles. As an adult, I continued to do this, and in my search for more affordable and unique hair pieces, I began making my own weaves. At first, I would use stockings as wig caps and sew different weaves and hair pieces on them and voila, I had a unique wig for myself. I then started buying wig caps and apart from weaves, I was also using crotchet braids to make my wigs.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Although people began complimenting my different hair pieces, I never really thought of turning my hobby into a business. It was in fact my fiancé who convinced me that my pieces were really good and that I needed to turn it into a business. He even came up with the name lifeandmau (pronounced as life and Mo, Mau is short of Maureen). I officially started my business on January 3 this year. The first thing I did was post pictures of myself with my different wigs on my Instagram page and after that, I asked my followers if they would be willing to buy them and the response was overwhelming. I sold 10 wigs in three days. It has been about 11 months and so far, so good. I now offer unique hair pieces in form of handmade wigs and faux pax extensions, most of my clients liked and still like my work, as all my pieces are handmade, unique and very affordable. It’s also a huge advantage to the clients who prefer to refurbish their old human hairpieces that I turn into beautiful pieces at a low cost.
RUNNING A START UP
Although I love what I do, it has come with its share of challenges, my business is still new and what I do is unique to the market and so getting a client to trust you is not always easy at the beginning. Many people today do not trust online businesses due to online business stigma, and therefore I ensure that I deliver 100 percent and beyond. New clients ask so many questions before deciding to make an order and I understand why, in a day I get so many calls and I have an 8 to 5 job and balancing that is not always easy. However, as the business grows and people begin to understand what I do, I am hoping it will get easier, in fact a lot of my clients are repeat clients. Also, I now ask clients to post pictures of the pieces they have bought from me to help inspire confidence in those who may have cold feet about online businesses.
Secondly, I have a bike guy who delivers the pieces to clients and sometimes he is not always on time as he works on his own time; sometimes you tell a client that they will get the product at a particular time and the bike guy comes late for one reason or the other. It is not always easy to control him but that is life.
Lastly, the number of orders have increased, last month I had 40 orders, and it can get hectic because I have another job and my child is only two years old. I have learnt how to manage my time better, plus my fiancé is very supportive and he helps me especially when I have a huge order.
WHERE I AM NOW
I like where I am now, I am able to manage myself and my business. I still like that my business is online, it works for me because it is a flexible platform. On my Instagram business platform I have 5000 followers, and on my personal Instagram page I have about 14,000 followers which is great traffic for my work. However, I am re-strategising on making more unique pieces and increasing my client base.
There is no perfect time to begin doing something that you love. Just start and learn along the way. Secondly, do what you love doing the most; your passion will sell it. In addition, you are never too young or too old for a new beginning.