Pamela Gatwiri is dreaming big

By Lisa Adiedo, Nairobi, Kenya —


PAMELA Gatwiri

PAMELA Gatwiri refers to herself as a “manicure entrepreneur.”  Her business in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, right in the Central Business District is Pam Nail Polish. 

She explains that what sets her enterprise apart from others in the beauty and cosmetics business is that she works exclusively on nails as opposed to others whose craft goes more into other beauty aspects such as hair and skincare. “We set ourselves apart as being solely a nail care company.”

The Pam nail products line are made in the USA but are branded for the Kenyan market. “We have named some of our polishes in Swahili. We have names such as Jiwe, Chungwa to ensure that the polish is Kenyan friendly. Also the fact that I am Kenyan means I get to interact with the locals and understand exactly what it is they want.”

The Economics graduate says she has always wanted to be a business owner. “At the back of my mind I knew I always wanted to do business but for a long time I didn’t know what kind.”

It was this thought that grew her interest in the nail care industry after trying out other lines of business in the fashion industry. She realized that being a “manicure entrepreneur” might fill a consumer need other companies had ignored.

Importing the products from USA, however, pose some challenges for the start-up entrepreneur. The local currency, Kenyan Shilling, has been losing value against the US dollar, pushing up prices of her products. “The weak shilling also means prices of everything in the country rises. This in turn can change people’s spending habits where people spend less.” She adds.

But this challenge doesn’t stop Pamela from dreaming big. Her long-term goal is to manufacture the polish in Kenyan. “The cost of manufacturing as a start-up would have been costly. Money which I didn’t have. I also wanted to build the brand and have a ready market for it before setting up a manufacturing plant.”

Pamela is hoping to raise money through investors in the coming years towards a manufacturing plant in Kenya. “This will be a dream come true. To see our products locally manufactured.

I always choose to see an opportunity with any challenge that presents itself. Even though I quit my job which was paying quite well, I realized that the beauty industry is worth billions so if I can one day build a billion dollar company, I am sure it will pay off.”

Pam Nail Polishes are sold in Kenya through various distributors, in supermarkets, malls, cosmetics shops, and online. “Our dream would be to open our own distribution outlets across Kenya and sell our products in major outlets.”

For anyone else who would like to start a business but is not sure how to go about it, Pamela’s advice is to start small, do some research, have a great positive work ethic and have a passion for whatever you do. — Pamela Gatwiri Leads Africa

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