Veronica Nyabuto, 40, is the owner and creator of the retail brand Verushka Wigs. She is an entrepreneur and mother to an 11-year-old girl who is a budding business lady too. She tells us about running a hair business and creating a legacy from it.
I am the brains and the fire behind Verushka, a brand which started out as mere writings of a dream on a tiny notebook. I currently actively manage the business online and in store presences.
I was born and raised in Nairobi in a family of four siblings. I grew up in a simple home. My mum worked as a secretary at Kenya Power while my dad was into business.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science and a minor in Sociology from the University of Nairobi. I graduated in 2005.
The first job I secured in 2005 was with an imports clearing agency at an airport’s urgent cargo department. I then joined Ecobank Kenya in 2008 and in 2013, I joined Nathan Claire Group.
In 2014, I left to join a Lagos-based private equity firm, Iroko Capital, where I worked for two years. Little did I know this would be my last job. I left Nigeria in 2016 for home.
At that time, I did not have a concrete plan on my next steps but I needed to come back home because my daughter needed my presence.
From there, I did several interviews with a number of local banks. I was at the final stages of interviewing with GT Bank Kenya when wigs chanced upon me.
I was called forth to fill a void I personally experienced in the hair extensions space. I had gone natural and needed a quick protective style for my hair that was not intrusive like braids and weaves.
One day, in my usual internet searches, I chanced upon a YouTube video of an African-American personality reviewing a wig she had bought online and I could not believe how flawless her wig looked.
I ordered two wigs and taught myself how to customise one to suit my hairline. I then sold the second wig to a friend who loved my new look.
I instantly realised a wig customised in this manner would offer quick and easy protective style solutions on condition it was well customised. I then started making the wigs myself with hair I had imported from India.
This customisation was the gap in the market. It became my value add and my unique selling and entry point into the market.
What happened next:
When I could not keep up with the demand and orders, I knew it was time to scale up. Making the wigs using hair bundles and closures/frontals was too time consuming and labour intensive.
In addition, these “homemade” wigs were hot, bumpy and heavy plus it limited my creativity. I needed to pick up the pace. I needed to innovate and re-create different looks seamlessly.
I stopped doing door-to-door deliveries and initially used my house to test how the market would respond to coming to a physical location. So my house doubled up as a ‘store’.
And the clients, especially ladies, came and they kept coming. As demand grew, I knew the only way to scale up my business was to stop making them by hand and have them professionally made.
I set up strategic meetings and flew out to Asia to meet with several factory owners who I have since partnered with to create my products according to my specifications.
I pick everything from the type of hair to be used on our wigs, to the density, the colour, cut and style. I even select the type of lace we use on the wigs.
Running a start-up:
It has been a journey of personal development and growth, filled with both high and low moments. Verushka is about self-empowerment.
My goal is to inspire and motivate people to follow their dreams. In short, a Verushka woman is one who has the courage to follow her dreams.
Where I am now:
I began by selling wigs out of the boot of my car. At that time, I solely handled deliveries, fittings and wig customisation and sales, driving from one client to the next. But that has since changed. Watching my business grow from Sh20,000 to what we are turning over today, with five employees, is something I am extremely proud of. This is a constant daily reminder that through sheer hard work and passion, anything is possible.
We now have our first flagship retail outlet in Westlands, Kenrail Towers. We are currently working on a strategy that will improve and increase our global outreach. Our aim in the industry is to provide women with the quality of hair that feels, looks and sits exactly as if it were their own hair. We believe hair is one of the most important ways to express your individual personality and that it deserves attention.
Sometimes when your business is growing, you may tend to forget to stop and look at the success achieved. That’s why it’s key to be passionate about what you are doing since passion is the driver.
Success does not happen overnight and you will have some dark days where you just want to throw it all in. But those are the times where you need to focus and celebrate the wins. Also, always maintain focus on your own journey. Write down a plan, strategy and vision for your business.
Never get comfortable. Today, you may have the hottest-selling product but if you fail to improve and listen to your customer, competition may drive you out of business. Listen to your customers and focus on improving your product offering while being the best version of you. Take courses geared towards self and business development.