Cracking the code in beauty industry

Thursday, May 27th, 2021 00:00 |
Brinty Beauty Lounge CEO Martin Ndung’u, attends to a client at his shop. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

Jasmine Atieno  @sparkleMine 

There is an old saying that goes ‘the same water that hardens an egg also softens the beans.

And for one Martin Ndung’u, he’s learnt exactly how to make lemonade from the lemons that life has thrown at him.

He has made the most out of his worst circumstances in life to achieve a life that many people could only admire.

At 33 years, Ndung’u is the chief executive officer for Brinty Beauty Lounge, which is located on Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street.

The beauty centre is one of the most sought after spots for services such as spa pedicure, manicure, acrylics, overlays, gel application, stick-ons, facial, waxing ombre nails and tutoring.

The last born in a family of eight was born and raised in Stoo Mbili village in Nakuru county.

His dad John Ndung’u died while Martin was in Class Six and his mum Monica Gathoni became the family’s sole breadwinner and single-handedly raised Martin and his siblings.

He attended Mutiume Primary School from 1995 to 2002 before joining Larmudiac Secondary School where he sat his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination in 2006.

His mum was unable to finance his studies any further and he had to look for work in order to support his family too.

Brinty Beauty Lounge CEO Martin Ndung’u. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

In June, 2007, he moved to Nairobi and landed himself his first job at a construction site (mjengo) in Ruai where he worked for six months as a casual labourer before the next opening.

“The initial supplier of the construction materials at the site approached me and asked if I would be interested to work as a shop assistant in one of his shops at Nyamakima in downtown Nairobi.

I did not hesitate to take the opportunity, so we exchanged contacts and that’s how I landed on my second job that I started in December 2007.

It’s at the shop that I gained experience in that field, which prompted me to start my own deals as a broker.

And since I was aggressive, I created my own network and left the shop in January 2010,” he intimates.

Conned entire stock

While he thought he had gained enough experience and the future seemed bright, Martin fell victim to a conman with a fake but promising contract that eventually cost him all his stock.

He was left distraught. Nevertheless, he could not stay down for long. He moved from Nairobi to Kiambu with hope of a fresh start.

“I visited my friend who owned a salon in Kiambu; I was really impressed when I saw him make a cool Sh2,000 in an hour.

So, I, therefore made up my mind to venture into that business also. And since my friend was keen on setting up a salon in Nairobi, also in hope of expanding his clientele, I decided to join hands with him.

I injected some capital into the business and we successfully made an entry into the Nairobi Central Business District,” he shares.

Being a hands-on man by nature, he honed his skills in the business very fast and thus gaining a good number of clients.

Well, beauty was not something he had envisioned, but he saw a good opportunity to set up his own place.

He says, “After working with my friend for eight months, I felt that I had gained enough experience.

I also knew that cosmetology was my new passion, which prompted me to start my own business.

We cordially parted ways with my friend. I had made some savings then I took a small loan to start up my business.

I had aimed big, but I started small and that is how Brinty Beauty Lounge was started in 2009.”

So far, he believes the business is taking the right shape. What inspires him to keep going are the smiles and satisfaction on his clients’ faces after a good service.

However, the greatest challenge as a male beautician, he says, is female clients wanting free services.

As a beautician, Martin ensures to always be on top of the trendy styles in the market, which means he has to keep researching online in order to keep up with the pace.

He also has various social media platforms that help him advertise his business.

He further intimates that earnings depend on the flow of the clients, and the services rendered.

“We make between Sh6,000 and Sh10,000 a day. Rent has gone up to Sh70,000 from the Sh50,000 we used to pay when we were starting.

My staff are paid on station basis and some on commission. We source our products directly  from the manufacturers, so we import.

But some we buy from licensed distributors, to make sure we get good quality from the source to avoid disappointments,” says Martin.

Coronavirus challenge

He adds that the Covid-19 pandemic gave him a massive blow, as he had started training students, and set up a training centre in 2019.

But due to the decreased revenue as a result of the lockdowns and closures, it became difficult to pay rent, which drove him to close the college. He now trains only at the spa. 

“I have learnt that working diligently to ensure clients’ satisfaction and word of mouth can build and market your business.

All I can advise the up-and-coming beauticians is that this industry is not a get-rich-quick scheme; they must build their clientele patiently and the rest will work out for them eventually.

To those wishing to start, I would like them to view life from a different perspective; aim big and start small,” he says in conclusion.

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