HAIRCUT

The barber mama you won't find in town

Mary runs two barber shops and also is a doctor at Nairobi South Hospital in South C.

In Summary

• With no pubs in the street, only located on the next street, it may be hard to understand where the clients are coming from.

• Platinum has been able to give cuts to entertainment bigwigs like King Kaka, Dr Ofweneke, Eric Omondi, Hope Kid, DJ Kwenye Beat and Fred Omondi.

A client in one of the barber shop
A client in one of the barber shop

Going up the elevator to the second floor of Pension Towers, along the not-so-busy Loita Street, leads you to Baberia Cuts on Mezzanine 2 floor of the building.

I am met by a welcoming front desk lady and only one male client is on the couch reading a local newspaper.

Waiting to talk to the owner of the barbershop, I am advised I have to wait for a few minutes as she is caught in the usual town traffic from work.

 

Before that, I was served with coffee, some biscuits and sweets, having to wait for the next for about 20 minutes.

Dr. Mary Kiara Otieno, the founder of the barbershop, when she arrived she informed me how she wouldn't stay for long as she was attending a function in town.

Mary, 31 years old, has been running two barbershops for two and a half years now, saying she has been able to accomplish her vision.

Married with two kids, she has a full-time job at Nairobi South Hospital in South C area, Emergency Medicine department.

“I have a keen eye on the skin and skincare conditions but hygiene is key as a doctor,” Mary said.

Dr. Mary Kiara Otieno, founder of Baberia Cuts
Dr. Mary Kiara Otieno, founder of Baberia Cuts

“I get patients with lot of infections as a result of poor hygiene even from the skin. And as of now my male clients have concerns on the same because of specific care routine they are doing or not doing. Some complain of a razor bump or bad skincare condition,” she added.

The business has grown over the years from skin products to skincare and male-groomed related services.

 

“I was the type of wife who would accompany their husband to their barber. I observed that the handling of the equipment and the entire process was not properly done and thought I could bring a better solution,” she says.

The doctor who has been practising medicine for the last eight years, however, says the industry was quite flooded at the time she joined in 2017.

“It was not easy but I still had a vision I had to implement. That means giving the best quality,” she says.

This pushed her to invest in tested skin products and creating the right atmosphere, as she said.

“The shop has to be very comfortable and a family-centred shop. All you need is small techniques that put you in a different bar from other shops," she says.

This has been made possible by the use of aloe vera products to rejuvenate and moisten the skin on the face and beard area, hot towel technique on the head before shaving to loosen the hair follicles and making it easy to shave and also providing hot and cold beverages to visiting clients.

"This shop is client-oriented. It is not just the haircut you get but the service. It's one you can't find in town," she adds.

The entrepreneur first began with the business with Baberia Cuts located on the Mezzanine 1 of the same building which she says serves all type of clientele and still offers the same service.

“A shave at Baberia is Sh600 with a complimentary head and neck massage. This is compared to Platinum branch which charges Sh1,500. This one is not only selling service but also the ambience, privacy and exclusivity,” Mary says.

A client receiving a complementary head message
A client receiving a complementary head message

With no pubs in the street, only located on the next street, it may be hard to understand where the clients are coming from, but Mary says the clients are time-bound.

"Eight months into the business, my clients started calling for an appointment and private service. This is what bore the need for this new Platinum shop,” she said.

The haircut market has over the last years exploded with new barbers opening in town.

This includes that have made a name in town among them Tony Airo and Africa royalty salon run by Eric One Wash both along Kimathi Street.

"There will always be competition and I am not worried about it,” she adds.

Platinum has been able to give cuts to entertainment bigwigs like King Kaka, Dr Ofweneke, Eric Omondi, Hope Kid, DJ Kwenye Beat and Fred Omondi.

Currently, the two branches are holding 28 employees under salaried and commission contracts, with plans to expand to areas like Westlands and Kilimani.

The businesses are also run by a manager, in most times when she is not around and serving patients.

“When you want your business to succeed you have to plan ahead before even thinking of the money that you will get. Our pricing includes taxes, costs and rent charges to accomplish tasks. Discipline as an entrepreneur is also very important.”

The first business was started through a credit facility which was paid off, with Mary saying the second loan is so far well managed.

She prides in empowering the employees to open businesses in pig farming, cereals store and wigs shops.

“I am happy there is growth among my three staff as I have enabled them to create their own small business,” she concluded.


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