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I kept going despite criticism of my niche venture

 Akinyi Yagomba. She turned her passion for tarot reading iinto a side hustle (Paul Ndiragu Mwangi/Standard)

Tarot cards are viewed as a controversial concept by many, and most people might find it hard to venture into reading them as a business.

Tarot By Akinyi is the brainchild of Akinyi Yagomba, in her late 30s, she tells Maria Nene where she got the idea to venture where few have.

My background:

I am an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. I have a Masters in Law - LLM that I acquired in Germany. Tarot reading is my side hustle.

It is a passion I turned into a business when many people started getting interested in what I saw in the cards.

I started doing it during my free time -- most Saturdays or when someone hires me for the services.

The idea:

Tarot card reading is the practice of using tarot cards to gain insight into the past, present or future by formulating a question, then drawing and interpreting cards.

I first got interested in it in 2003 when I was a teenager because of watching Spanish Telemundo soap operas.

Although, I cannot remember the name of the exact programme that sparked my interest, the little I can recall is the characters would visit the tarot card reader, and she would read their future for them.

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It made me want to know more about the cards that could predict the future.

At that time, they were not available in Kenya, so I pursued other interests, and I came back to the tarot later.

I bought my first deck of cards in 2005 when I was on campus in South Africa. Later, I purchased my second pack while I was doing my LLM in Germany.

At first, I was doing the readings for friends and family, and they enjoyed it very much. During that time, I put my studies first.

I did not imagine that I would one day earn from it. Gradually, they started giving me referrals, and I decided to make it a fully-fledged business.

What happened next:

The tarot is a system so I had to learn how it works before I started reading the cards. Then I would do the readings on myself first to see the outcome.

Fortunately, I noticed that it works! When I graduated to reading the cards for my family and friends, I affirmed that it is also possible on other people.

After a lot of research on the tarot through reading associations, watching videos on YouTube, and joining Facebook groups with other tarot readers from all over the world, I gained confidence to launch it as a business in 2016. That is how I also started to deduce the readings to strangers.

I settled on the name of my business because it describes it perfectly. My first real clients also encouraged me by giving me positive feedback on my work. Most of them were from social media.

I was a student when I first started, and I did it for fun, so there was no pressure. But now that I was dealing with real clients, I must deliver. Additionally, I continued upgrading my skills during my free time.

Currently, I am working as an advocate full time, but I already know that it only takes one hour to complete a session so I only do the readings during my free time.

Although the tarot reading is a viable business, I do it as a side hustle. I put my law career first since it pays most of my bills. I have a very supportive husband. My bosses and colleagues are also supportive, and that is how I can juggle a career, marriage, and the tarot side hustle.

Running a startup:

When I first started, it took me a lot of time to memorise the 78 cards in the tarot system. Also, you must know how to read and understand all the cards efficiently for the reading to run smoothly.

For instance, when the card is upright, it has a different meaning from when you reverse it. When the cards are combined, they also have another significance. A particular order also has another meaning.

I started with home visits, so I would charge Sh3,000 considering that I was using my own fare. Many people were not comfortable when I held sessions in their houses, and I also did not feel safe so I rented an office in Nairobi West where I would also feel secure. It made me increase the charges to Sh5,000. I also had to hire a receptionist, so I had to factor in her salary.

When the pandemic started, I had to close my business because of the physical contact with the clients. Currently, I do online or phone readings. I plan to reopen when the pandemic dies down.

Where I am now:

Tarot reading is a novel concept, and most people still do not understand it. Therefore, I get a lot of backlash from superstitious and religious groups.

Although I respect everyone’s views and beliefs, I developed a thick skin and a patient attitude. I try and explain my services to them.

If they do not understand what I do, I do not impose on them. My focus is on the people who are curious and want to know more about the business.

With time, I started renting stands at events to advertise my business. I also pay for marketing on social media. Just like any other business, it took some time to be fully established.

Explaining what I do to some people is a challenge because it is out of their reality. However, none of my clients has ever complained after a reading.

A typical face-to-face session starts with general reading to see what the cards pick up. Then we do specific prodding where you choose an area where you want the insight to focus. It could be a relationship, career, finance, business, health, sport among others.

I must decipher every card open to the client. An online session starts with arranging the cards then the client tells me which cards to pick so they still do it by themselves.

Last year, I was invited to Lord Errol to do a reading for a Henrik Gin event. I held sessions for more than 20 people in one evening. It was nice to see how happy they were after the readings, and I appreciated the payment.

My tip:

The business has its ups and downs. It is not easy to start and can get a bit lonely. However, do not give up on your dreams. Keep pushing, and it will only get better.

Before you start a business, get a business plan. Carry out a thorough research on the market. Never be afraid to fail because it is part of the business process.

Always put God first and pray for the business. God answers prayers at His own pace.

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