Eunice Waithira found her passion in sales and marketing after accepting a job right after high school. She shares how she took what she learnt and started her own business, Vivian Air Fresheners
I was born in Nairobi County to a family of three siblings. I joined Sam Junior Academy in Thika for my primary school and sat for my KCPE exams in 2006. I then joined Kirinyaga Mary Immaculate Academy Secondary School and sat for my KCSE exams in 2010. I didn’t perform as per my parent’s expectations but I did not to lose hope. I decided I would grab any opportunity that came my way.
In December 2011, I got a job that entailed marketing air fresheners. My parents and some of my relatives were not so happy with my decision to take the job but that didn’t change my mind.
I had to work hard to earn a good commission and before long, I could close deals very easily without much struggle. I would even earn bonuses from time to time. My boss was impressed.
I realised I had a passion for marketing so I saved my money so I could go back to school. In 2014, I joined Technical University of Kenya to pursue a Level 1 Diploma in Marketing and Management and in 2017 joined the Institute of Commercial Management to pursue a professional course.
I would work during the day and attend class in the evening. I am still waiting to graduate. My mum was finally happy to see me making it and has continued to support me.
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After working for some time, I realised that people appreciated good scents. I started my own company, Vivian Air Fresheners and thought of sourcing a variety of quality air freshen. I imported a few air fresheners from France and that’s how we kicked off.
What happened next
With no office space, I would market and sell my products in different places and would move from county to county. Eventually, I hired a team of sales representatives to assist me in the sale of the air fresheners, both retail and wholesale.
Initially, we started with one flavour -lemon but soon we brought on board other flavours such as strawberry, lavender, coffee, vanilla and osmanthus, which were well received in the market. The market stabilised and I found myself doing more and more deliveries. Besides households, our clients include hotels and major online outlets.
Running a startup
I started working when I was only 21 years old and started Vivian Air Fresheners at 25. I have learnt so much -- like how to build and maintain relationships with clients. What has made us stand out as Vivian Air Fresheners is maintaining the quality of products that we have in the market since there are many other types of air fresheners. We know that for our business to thrive, we have to offer quality products.
Before Covid-19, we were coping well. I had a team of about 12 representatives. But when the pandemic struck, I had to switch to selling online. A few of my work force had to take a break but they are now gradually coming back.
One major challenge was the delay in the importation of products. When the pandemic struck in March, we had to wait for about five months for the products to be released. In addition, most of our clients closed shop. The rest -- mostly restaurants and hotels -- started asking for half of what they used to order before.
Despite that, I decided to be proactive and started marketing and selling the products on different platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. I am glad that the reception was good and that is what has sustained us as a business.
Where I am now
I see the Corona pandemic as a blessing in disguise. I must say that in every restriction lies an opportunity of creativity and innovation. Instead of closing down, we adjusted to the new norm and, so far, I like the new style.
With online selling, it’s easy to target all round customers and I created good relationships with clients online. We can now easily reach different counties across the country and even supply our products to Uganda.
I also hope to venture into quality and affordable colognes and conduct motivational talks to encourage those who want to venture into business.
Venture into a business because it’s your interest. Learn how to adjust through different times, even in the midst of a crisis. Think of ways to be proactive.
Above all, put God first in everything you do. Commit your plans to God and He will establish your ways. Prayer and hard work go hand in hand. Most businesses have closed down but we thank God that we are still up and running. I don’t take it for granted.