Flying planes and body contouring demand precision

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021 00:00 |
Makena has a variety of machines for body contouring. Photo/PD/NJERI MAINA

If you want to know what really drives Lily Makena, if you really want to know what makes her juggle flying commercial airplanes while she runs Indulge Nail and Beauty Lounge, if you want to know why and how she has raised a strong millennial daughter, then you probably need to know about her strong parents.

Lily grew up with two loving parents who nurtured her, taught her right and wrong, but most importantly, broadened her definition of what she could achieve in life. Decades later, those lessons have stuck with her.

“Growing up, I really wanted to be an airhostess. I would stare longingly as planes passed overhead and left white plumes behind them.

When I told my mother that I wanted to be an air hostess, she asked me why, and if it had occurred to me that I could be the pilot too. It had not. She challenged me to think and want more for myself.

She still does. She taught me to push the envelope always. Even for myself. Her and my dad gave me not just a formal education, but imparted in me mental fortitude and soft skills needed to be who I am today,” Makena shares.

Betting on beauty

Makena went to flying school immediately after her A levels. She would graduate and start flying cargo planes and small planes.

Makena has a variety of machines for body contouring. One can do nail and facial as they get the treatment. Photo/PD/NJERI MAINA

But her flying career would be on a back burner for a while as she learnt and established her beauty brand.

The audacity to bet on herself has seen her sustain her beauty and body contouring business for over two decades.

She started working as an aesthetician armed with a diploma in aesthetics and cosmetology in 1998 immediately after beauty school. 

After four years of employment, she opened her own place with a backing of a partner.

They would close the business in 2015 due to creative differences. She shares how the experience affected her as she lost a huge chunk of money. 

But she has always believed in resilience. So exactly three years later in 2018, she opened Indulge Nail and Beauty Lounge at China Wuyi Plaza on Galana Road, Nairobi, armed only with experience and a dream of building her business back up.

She would start Indulge as a nail, facials, massage and body contouring centre then would scale to include hair services.

Under body contouring, the main services would be laser lipo, cool sculpting, and vacuum therapy. 

While you may think that electromagnetic therapy is a new technology, Makena shares that it has been here for a while and was widely practiced in the early 1990s.

She had learnt about it in beauty school, but went to school to get extra certification with each machine she added at the beauty clinic.

“We have different machines, which produce pulses equivalent to a set number of exercises that stimulate your muscles thereby aiding with weight loss.

We for instance can calibrate the machine at 1200 sit-ups and use the pulses to stimulate your muscles.

I decided that this was going to be part of our core services at Indulge, after seeing how interlinked beauty and self-esteem are.

I normally seek to uplift people’s mood using the work of my hands,” Makena explains.

Highlights and challenges

Makena believes in offering quality services no matter the cost. In a world where there is a surfeit of knowledge from all corners of the web, she insists on the importance of knowing your craft, upskilling and ensuring that even when upskilling that one is leveraging the right resources. 

Makena’s highlight in her job is when she sees clients light up after her services.

She values quality service and is a self-confessed neat and hygiene freak who wants everything spick and span.

She painstakingly draws intricate identical details on my nails during the interview as testament to this.

As with all businesses, Indulge has weathered its fair share of challenges. 

Poaching of staff by competition is one common challenge that all beauty clinics have gone through.

There is no other way to deal with this than forge forward and pray that you get good replacements with a good work ethic. 

As a certified pilot, Makena would take time from her beauty work during downtine and fly private planes. She also worked as an instructor at Ninety-Nines Flying School.

Unfortunately, Covid 19 pandemic and its associated safety precautions affected many industries including the ailine and beauty industries.

This meant that she could no longer fly or do her job as an instructor at the flying school. 

She closed shop and stayed home with her family till the pandemic abated. She did a thorough fumigation and sanitisation exercise before re-opening in December 2020. 

Business has slowly been picking up, thanks to her loyal customers. She is hopeful of better days to come.

To anyone who wants to get into the industry, she would advise them to work hard and have a great work ethic. 

“Make sure you are getting into the beauty industry for the right reasons. And no, money is not a good reason. You need to care about people and the impact you have on them.

Be mindful of who you partner with—when you can, avoid partnerships. Most importantly, give your all in everything you do.

That is what I do whether I am in the air or doing a body wrap on my client,” Makena says.

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