From Hawking Popcorn to Owning A Make-Up Line in Kenya
From Hawking Popcorn to Owning A Make-Up Line in Kenya – Rose Ntong’ondu’s Story – Starting a business in Kenya can be a daunting venture but very rewarding for those who embark on it. Women in particular have faced hurdles and setbacks whilst following their dreams to start their own businesses. Through resilience and determination, women are forging ahead on their business journeys leaving behind legacies and encouraging stories for those who wish to walk in their shoes. One resilient woman is Rose Ntong’ondu; an award winning Make-Up artist and Trainer, and owner of Make-up By Rose. Roses’ journey to success was not that reminiscent of her name, a bed of roses. Hers was paved with hardships and setbacks that saw her sell smokies and popcorns in the streets at one time. That, however, did little to deter her from following her dreams, igniting her passion and building her brand.
Rose shared her story with us to help motivate a budding entrepreneur to never give up.
EABC: Tell us a bit about Rose Ntong’ondu. What was your childhood like?
ROSE: Rose Ntong’ondu is like that next door girl. Haven’t changed. My childhood was happy because spent most of it with my family. I love my family above all. My mother was my anchor. She was my biggest cheer-leader. She had it rough. With little education my mother made sure we got all the business skills form her. Till today I have never met any woman that could match my mother’s hard work.
My elder sister was no different, she was one of the best salonist in our area, in Meru. She was hardworking, still is.
EABC: Not all women venture into Make-Up industry. How did the idea for your business come about?
ROSE: When I was growing up, my mother and my sister were my role models. I loved watching my sister work on her clients in her salon in Meru. She was so good at her job. I wanted to be just like her. Whenever I watched my sister transform a client’s hair, I wondered how the client would have looked with her face done as well. I wondered whether people would ever pay me to get their faces done a little. I had that dream since I was in grade 4. It never left me, I’m glad it didn’t. Lol!
EABC: Has make-up always been your passion?
ROSE: Yes. I borrowed my first lipstick from my sister at the age of about 10. Irene lipstick.
EABC: You started from selling smokies and popcorn from the side of the road to owning a fully-fledged business. What is your motivation/driving force?
ROSE: For me, I never settle for less. And I never forget where I came from. I’ve had some tough times, I work hard so my kids will never have to experience what I went through. No way am going back to that tough life!
EABC: One of the biggest worries aspiring entrepreneurs have is how to acquire capital for their businesses. How did you get funding for your business?
ROSE: I hate loans and handouts. So, the popcorn and smokies business on the road did it for me. My husband and I run Make-Up By Rose. I had nothing starting the business. It was a far off dream. I borrowed Ksh. 8,000 from my mother and that’s how everything fell into place. I used the money to buy my popcorn machine, which is how I was able to get some make-up products.
EABC: What else do you partake in as a business woman/role model besides make-up artistry?
ROSE: I am a hustler. I do so much. Apart from making people look beautiful, I also run the first make-up school in Kenya. We train more than 100 students every month. I have also just launched my makeup line a few days ago. From a line of 20 products, we have started with lashes and brushes. I’m very excited about that. I also love mentoring through my business. I love holding hands of young upcoming entrepreneurs. Mostly those that are giving up in life. It’s exciting to see young people come to me feeling hopeless and leave motivated, empowered and ready to take on the world. Very exciting.
EABC: What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
ROSE: So far, starting my own makeup line. I love creating and filing gaps. My make-up line is very exciting.
EABC: Any challenges faced while climbing up the entrepreneurial ladder?
ROSE: The challenges are massive. Being a woman, people tend to think you need men with money to be successful. Or sponsors. Again, people locking doors or not giving you opportunities simply because ‘they don’t believe in your dream’. It’s hard. I shiver when I think about what most upcoming entrepreneurs go through. I wish I could help them all. I just wish.
EABC: A word of advice for budding entrepreneurs out there, both young and old?
ROSE: ’Lift where you stand’ meaning start from where you are. Stop wishing you had this or that. Most people keep saying, ‘If I had this, then I could do this’. Those are just excuses. Do what you can from where you are right now. You just have to find a way.
Another word of advice, ‘NEVER EVER GIVE UP. NO MATTER WHAT. NEVER GIVE UP’.
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