In July, she rented a booth at the Hair and Beauty Expo held at Sarit Center, Nairobi. Strategically choosing one of the first booths near the entrance, Pam and her crew of smartly dressed staff gave free manicures for every nail polish bought.
By mid-afternoon, they had their hands full as women lined up to get their nails done in colours with catchy Swahili names like Jani and Kahawa. I walked away with Blueberry, a fun aqua blue that made me gesture with my fingers more than normal.
So whose the woman behind this brilliant idea?
A former Emirates flight attendant, Pam Gatwiri’s choice to quit her well paying job to sell nail polish was met with a lot of skepticism from both family and friends but she stuck with it, researching for close to two years on product formulation and manufacture. Today, she runs a nail bar in the CBD and beauty stores and supermarkets in Nairobi are stocking her vegan non-toxic nail polish.
What inspired you to leave your job and start a nail polish line?
I was inspired by the fact that I love nail polish and I saw a gap in the nail care industry. God gave me an eye for color . Creating something and seeing it as a finished product is such a rewarding feeling. I was inspired to leave employment because I knew in business is where I would make a difference and impact the lives of other Kenyans by creating employment.
What did you study in university and how do you apply those skills
I studied accounting and business management which is a double major and graduated in honours from Daystar University.They are both very essential to the running any business as you get to understand numbers, budgets, taxes, profits and losses, how to manage a business and the importance of organisation and book-keeping. I still enjoy the above two skills in business. I also did a diploma in interior design and will be pursuing a diploma in nail technology very soon.
Why did you choose to go with natural ingredients?
Dangerous ingredients are very harmful. They include toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, or dibutyl phthalate. Some of these ingredients can cause cancer. It’s that serious. So going for a formula that is less toxic — our polishes are 5-free meaning they don’t have the above ingredients. This is the most essential trait of our polishes
Our polishes are also vegan meaning they are not tested on animals or made from animal extracts.
What’s your typical day like?
My day varies. My main day is when I do meeting with the team on Tuesdays. Other times I’m doing product research for new products. Engaging my manufacturers locally and abroad. At times I’m attending to clients in the nail bar. At times I’m going round our distribution outlets. Meetings here and there with different people. Other times I get involved in sales.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Creating products. I enjoy the creative side of business.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Impacting the lives of the team I have and creating employment. Also increasing our product range and colour selection. And learning nail skills on the job.
Where do you see Pam Nail polish a few years form now?
I see Pam Nail Polish with several nail bars. A full nail care range of products. And for us to have created one of the best nail polishes in the country.
What colour is most popular with your customers?
Kahawa which is a nude. Any shade of red like Hot Red. And a Hot Pink Neema
How profitable has your business been so far
The business is still new however, we are able to make money to meet expenses. We still need more resources to be able to manufacture in bulk as at the moment we only manufacture small quantities due to limited resources.
What do you do when you want to relax after a long day?
I like to watch movies. Enjoying the company of good friends and travelling.
You can visit the Pam’s nail bar at 3rd floor, Shop 8., Kai Plaza, (opposite Odeon), Tom Mboya street, look out for Bata, Nairobi. Kenya
Afrinado Review: Jiwe and Blueberry
These are probably my two favourite Pam Nail polish colours. What I liked most about the lacquer, is that it drys fast plus no smudges or reapplications half an hour later. It is also very pigmented. I am not a fan of slathering on tons of polish or even gel manicures, so the polish was perfect for me, I only needed one coat.
Second thing I loved about them is they wipe off quick and clean, no staining as with some other brands. The brush is also easy to handle and makes application easy. I love the fact that it’s non-toxic so I will definitely be buying more nail polish from Pam, a nice red perhaps :-).
More on Pam Nail Polish: http://pamnailpolish.wixsite.com/pamnails
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