Venturing where few men tread
MWANGI KAMAU dropped out of computer science class to get into cosmetology, now he runs a cosmeceutical business through which he wants to help both men and women look good.
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
When you think of the beauty industry, and who enrolls in cosmetology programmes, you probably picture a woman as the typical student and worker. That may be true, but that fact is changing.
Cosmetology is not just for women. Men are growing in the industry and making a big impact.
Mwangi Kamau, the proprietor of Blush On Skincare company, is one of the few men making it in this industry. Though for him he has decided to take one of the rare paths in the industry.
“Our company deals with cosmeceuticals and colour cosmetics. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products with active ingredients and are claimed to have medicinal or drug-like benefits.
Colour cosmetics are the combination of chemicals used for enhancing the appearance or imparting aroma to the human body.
These cosmetics include facial make-up products, nail care products, lip care products, and eye make-up products,” he says.
For Mwangi, it wasn’t all about beauty when he was growing up. Actually, after finishing Form Four he joined Kenya Polytechnic to study computer science.
But once he was done with college he realised he didn’t have a passion for computers and he was drawn to the medical field, but on skin.
Because of this, he abandoned his initial course and decided to look for another one.
When his sister introduced the idea of cosmetology to him, he tried it out and fell in love with it.
“At first, I was reluctant to take up this course because it looks girlish, but after my sister convinced me, I gave it a try.
This is how I found out that I actually had a passion for it and the rest is history,” he explains.
Though he wasn’t sure which path he wanted to take in the industry at first, during his training, he identified a gap that needed to be bridged —that s the gap between dermatologists and beauticians.
He then dropped off becoming a beautician and undertook an advanced course in skincare.
In the process, he worked with international companies that took him for further training, thus giving him more exposure.
“I realised a lot of companies are coming up with a skincare range that works based on the active ingredients they have.
The bad thing is most beauticians are unable to access these products, and if they access them they don’t know how to use them,” he says.
Having this in mind, he invested around Sh500,000 to buy the necessary products and equipment and in 2017 Blush on Skincare company opened its doors in Nairobi’s Kilimani area.
The business didn’t pick up immediately; it took him about one year to start making profits.
During that trying moment, he used to double up as a farmer and sales from the farm produce kept the business afloat.
“Business was tough since I was using a new skincare line people didn’t know. I mostly relied on referrals, and embarked on social media marketing. Fortunately, my efforts bore fruits,” he explains.
Though this is a women dominated field, he says he has succeeded because of his passion and desire to be the best.
“My passion comes from the desire to make people look better and their smiles are actually therapy to my soul.
I want to see ladies use the right products based on ingredients, not the name. Most people get a product because their friend uses it. I want to stop this trend,” he says.
He reveals that the cosmeceutical industry is ever more competitive and continues to grow with a myriad of new products entering the market every day.
The industry, long associated with women, is now opening up and men are now coming on board.
“Men have realised it feels great to look good. I always say even men have skin and it can be damaged if not taken care of. So far I have a good number of male clients,” he says.
Kamau says the biggest challenge he has faced so far is losing money to online clients.
Most of them pay the down payment, but fail to pay the rest when they receive their orders. Because of this, he was forced to close the online platform to prevent more loss.
He says his ultimate vision is to open a Kenyan skincare product line. This is because currently, he focuses on using and advising his client on the gentlest skincare line such as KUESHI, which they import from Spain.
“I desire to have a product line made from organic and natural products. This will help in lowering the price of the products since most of them are a bit expensive for now.”