Frustration birthed my nail business, says Phyllis Njuguna

Thursday, September 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Phyllis Njuguna, founder of Delish Nail Bar and Delish Academy. Photo/PD/NAILANTEI NORARI

Nailantei Norari @ArtNorari

In October 2018, Phyllis Njuguna was retrenched from her procurement job alongside many others, as her company was not doing well financially.

She went home and started thinking and researching on an entrepreneurial venture that she could put her skills and time into.

Her frustration with getting chipped nails was what birthed Delish Nailbar.

“I was always frustrated when I would do my nails and they would start chipping a few days later.

My friends were also facing the same problem. So, when I was let go, I started thinking along the lines of opening a nail salon that would give people long lasting gel polish without harming their nails.

I went online and started researching nail technology, what other people were doing and what I could do differently,” Phyllis elaborates.

She did her research, looked for a location and nail technicians and then used all her savings to launch Delish in November the same year.

Phyllis was afraid of many things; entering a market where there were already many nail shops, and where even more were bound to mushroom after hers. 

Growing portfolio

But she muscled through the fear and did it anyway. She started off doing manicures and pedicures, and then grew her portfolio to include lash extensions and eyebrow services.

Her procurement degree from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and full Procurement professional qualifications from Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply UK have served her in good stead as she is responsible for sourcing for equipment and products for her nail bar.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It comes with its fair share of challenges and highlights.

Phyllis has braved her fair share. The first challenge was hiring nail technicians with the skill set she needed and convincing them to join her then nascent brand.

Brand building and getting clients to trust her was also another major challenge that took time and quality nail care treatments to achieve.

“Building Delish to the brand it is has taken time, blood, sweat and tears. To have clients coming back, choosing us even as more nail bars mushroom is truly a blessing.

But my highlight is seeing our customers happy with their nails that serve them for a long time.

The recognition, acceptance and even referrals from our clients to their friends are truly phenomenal and humbling.

Becoming the brand we are now has been a dream come true,” she enthuses.

As her brand grew, clients and people looking to get into the business asked her about the training and upskilling for her staff.

From here, she saw the gap in training in the market and started Delish Nail Academy, where students are equipped with the necessary skills to become qualified nail technicians so they can either seek employment or create employment by starting their own outfits.

As with all businesses, there has been a lot of learning and growing to be done.

Luckily for Phyllis, she has business mentors from whom she can learn to avoid pitfalls that a more experienced eye would help her steer clear from.

Moreover, managing a team, which is one of her core duties as the managing director of Delish, is her forte as she had managed teams before. Hiring the right people however was not as easy.

Since she values upskilling her team and ensuring that not only are the right people hired, but that they keep growing, she decided to delegate that to a HR consultant who helps in recruiting and training staff.  

Start small

“As a small business, sometimes you find yourself doing everything. I have learnt the importance of doing an honest self-appraisal and asking for help in areas I am not good at.

It is important to hire qualified staff to delegate some of your business functions. You cannot do everything,” she advises.

As to how the business is doing due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic, Phyllis says it has been hard, but they are slowly adapting.

She closed shop to help flatten the curve, but opened recently, following all the Ministry of Health guidelines, with staff and clients having to wear face masks during all procedures.

While all surfaces are cleaned and sanitised daily, every Saturday, the premises is sprayed down and surfaces thoroughly sanitised to enhance safety.

To budding entrepreneurs and those still dreaming up and planning to start businesses, Phyllis urges them to do it now.

“Start where you are; start now; start with what you have. There is never going to be a right time, so stop procrastinating.

Don’t be afraid of starting small. Every great business has to start somewhere. Put God first and you will be ok.

Don’t give up when your business does not give you the expected results immediately.

Analyse, adapt and keep it moving. It takes time and a lot of hard work. It is not going to be easy. But it will definitely be fulfilling,” she concludes. 

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