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Wahu Kagwi: Tips on how to run a successful upmarket salon

 Musician Wahu Kagwi. She also runs a salon business (Courtesy)

Musician Wahu Kagwi is not only an accomplished singer, but also an entrepreneur running a salon business in Nairobi County.

Wahu runs Afrosiri Salon that offers hair, manicure, pedicure, and spa services.

She shares gems on running salon business in an upmarket area.

Be original

Having been in the business for more than seven years, Wahu has learnt the value of being original. “Copycat mentality is bound to fail. If you start something, do it because you believe in it and have a strategy. Salon and beauty is a competitive venture so have a solid strategy," she says.

Size and location

Size and location of the salon will highly influence the capital injected into the business. "There is no set standard for a salon; there are those who want to start a salon in a house. Others want it in an estate while some prefer malls. All these factors affect the amount of capital needed to start the business."

Capital

To hack this, you can seek investment partners, loans from banks and micro finance institutions that target women and the youth. One can also borrow from friends. “For me, I did partial financing from a financial partner. I also have a business partner and we took a loan together and injected it into the business," she says.

Client is the boss

The client is always right. Yes this may sound like a cliché but it is the truth. She sums it thus: '"You can have everything in place but if it is not working out for the client, they won't come. Be ready to listen to your clients, they will tell you what they want."

Solid plan

Having a strategy and a plan, she says, is very important when running a salon business. “Sticking to the plan is important.

“Success depends on how well you have planned and largely lies on your relationship with your team. Your team is going to be there for eight hours, how you relate with them matters,” she says, insisting that the comfort of your employees matters.

“For me, the people I work with are younger but I have established a relationship where we can talk about everything. We meet to pray together and I also mentor them.”

Power of social media and internet

In this day and age of cutthroat competition, social media is a gamechanger. “A good friend advised me to move my business online and warned me that if I did not do so, it will die.”

Wahu underscores the importance of having a business with a presence on social media.

“Social media is everything to us because we cannot afford to be on mainstream media. It is expensive to advertise on TV.”

Stay up-to-date

To stay on top of things, Wahu researches trends in the hair business so that she can always give her clients value for their money.

“We give discounts sometimes to attract customers but we have loyal customers who come whether or not we have discounts. We believe in the quality of our service.”

Impact of covid on business?

Covid has affected business and opened their eyes to the need to be innovative. “Covid has been a major challenge. We have been forced to make some radical changes. Like now, we prefer clients to make appointments before coming to avoid crowding.”

Focus

Though there is pressure to flow with trends, Wahu says it pays to remain focused even as you embrace changes. “In the beauty business, trends always come and go. We are always on the ready to sharpen our edge, but we remain focused on our core vision.”

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