Georgina Kirungo, The Millennial Entrepreneur Striking Gold in East Africa's Hair Industry
BY HARUN MOMANYI FOR KUNG'ARA STORE
Nywele Creative is a chain of luxury hair boutiques founded in 2011 by Georgina Kirungo, a millennial entrepreneur whose vision has seen her business expand to great heights. The Kung'ara team chatted with Georgina about her plans for the future. Read below:
Kung'ara: How did Nywele Creative start and how did you manage to build a brand that resonates so strongly with Kenyan women? As a female business owner, what challenges have you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?
Georgina: Nywele Creative started in 2011, it was quite a basic idea (which has obviously evolved immensely over time). My sole purpose was to give women in Kenya the convenient, reliable and consistent access to great quality hair extensions which allowed them to extenuating and play with length, volume and color like never before: that made them feel and look fabulous.
I had found gold, The Finest Virgin Hair is incredibly difficult to source time and time again, it's also rare in its existence and the process of ensuring the best is vigorous and time consuming. I didn't give up, I sacrificed a lot of my social life, and my free time and I dedicated every penny and waking moment I had into understanding this process and becoming an expert within the field. Being in the UK which has a historic background in Wig Making and sourcing the most premium hair for Extension use from across the world worked to my advantage. I worked hard and I also worked fast, I had to make sure that I could deliver my promise more than once, before I started and that I could commit to this for a lifetime. I had to understand the industry in its entirety and it was an overwhelming process.
I had to learn about the logistics, what was practical, who to rely on and when. What were the legal and financial implications of getting my product from source and providing it to those who wanted it when I was able to convince them, that what I had was special - because it really is. Once the logistics were beginning to fall into place I had to think of a brand, how people were to access my brand and my target market so that I could fulfill their needs to the best of my ability with this gold that I knew I had!
I was able to come up with the name Nywele (Hair) and Creative (In the ways in which we were going to provide our extensions - never Seen before) I registered the company as a sole trader and begun doing door to door deliveries. We used social media to reach our clients and learnt about our target market through our interactions with our clients and our close rapport. We used social media feedback as a focus group as well as the many conversations we had over a cup of tea when we made our deliveries with our clients and we really understood what it was about what we did that made our brand important to them, we understood what they loved about us. We built on this quickly, we took every feedback as positive and it led us into the right direction. We opened a store that women could access conveniently when deliveries became overwhelming and before we knew it 5 years had flown by and we had 5 Branches all due to demand.
We are now the Leading Virgin Hair Brand in East Africa - we deliver across the country and worldwide on a daily basis. This is due to really understanding the market, having gone to great lengths to be as knowledgeable and educated as we are about our product and the industry which we are the Pioneers. We are a Trusted brand as we have lived up to our promise of consistency and we have the greatest number of chain stores across the country all providing the same standard of high quality. Kenyan women have grown with us, and we have grown in our understanding of exactly what they need and being able to provide it first.
Kung'ara: In the hair industry, consultations are a cornerstone of successful appointments and satisfied clients. Walk us through the consultation process when a client walks into the Nywele Creative luxury hair boutique?
Georgina: Our clientele all have different requirements when they walk in to Nywele Creative and each and every consultation is unique. However, in a broader and more vague perspective, we welcome all our clients to one of four services, our Showroom which offers all types of Hair Extensions of Different Origin and texture, Our Salons which offer Walk In Complimentary Hair Services, our Lash and Brow Parlor which offers Professional Eyelash and Eyebrow services, or our Wig Room which offers custom consultations for bespoke units for all clients on an appointment basis. We offer world class customer care services across all four departments. All our staff are well trained and educated about our products and services. We offer advice about maintainance and we also provide restoration services to aid you with dry or damaged hair extensions. It is important to us that you fully understand the product and how to use it so consumer awareness is key in any consultation and thorough advice about all the options that are available to you no matter what style, length, volume or color you want to achieve. In our consultations, we can make anything happen for you and that's what makes them unique and personal to our clients and that's what makes every experience different.
Kung'ara: You’ve built a vibrant community of loyal clients through organizing exclusive events for Nywele Creative members. How does your team handle client service and ensure that clients are satisfied and remain loyal to your hair boutique? What aspects differentiate Nywele Creative’s client service from other hair boutiques?
Georgina: We indeed offer Exclusive Events for our Privilege Club Members. This has aided us in our aim to create a network of women with a fine taste for artistry and a community where we can share our values and inform one another on similar interests. It has been amazing and has also been a focus group for clients who are very loyal to our brand allowing us to constantly improve what we are doing, every step of the way. Our Connoisseur Monthly Cocktail has allowed us to meet clients from across all our branches regularly, offer them exclusive pieces that are unique and has allowed us to educate those who love hair through our live tutorials and demonstrations. We go to great lengths to ask detailed questions about our clients experiences and handle each individual feedback separately. We also have ongoing training across all staff for customer care, sales training and service knowledge. Nywele Creative customer care is unique and has been tailor made to meet the needs and requirements of our target market.
Kung'ara: The hair and beauty industry tends to be trend-driven, and this is largely owed to the fact that new innovations in hair products and styling techniques constantly emerge over time. How do you perform research in order to stay on top of different styling techniques?
Georgina: Well, it's not just research, it's constant learning in the field. It's everyday, it's listening to our clients, social media influences, Hollywood trends, we look where everyone is looking and no one bothers at the same time, we go to all ends and all extremes. I recently completed a 3 Month course at the Leading Academy of Lace Systems in London, UK. Lace Systems are an emerging market and so constant improvement and engagement, practically on the ground is so important. I'll be back later this year at a Film and Theatre Hair Speciality course and I have 3 Expos booked across the world next year, I go to various seminars throughout the year and keep in touch with big time suppliers of products..which keeps me up to date with consumer patterns and behaviour. Trends can be predicted and so we work ahead of time, helping set them and also create a standard that so many use, everyday.
Kung'ara: All women can relate to the trials of dealing with hair, as women often worry about styling it, coloring it, and changing the texture (i.e., straightening or curling it). Women often worry about whether a new hair style will be too short, too long, whether it will make them appear too young, too old, too trendy, or too safe, in addition to other concerns. What advice would you give to a client who wants a new look but isn’t quite sure?
Georgina: We always say, come in! If you visit us we can help you chose the perfect new look. We have samples that you can fit and try on that give you an idea of what a drastic hair length or colour would do for you and what outcome you can expect to achieve. We have a lot of variety and we give you thorough and detailed advice about all the options you have be it colour, length, volume, texture you name it.
Kung'ara: Some hair care products such as relaxers have long been implicated as causes of hair loss, while natural-hair styling techniques such as braiding also cause hair loss. Other common hair and scalp complaints among women include hair breakage, scalp itching, excessive dandruff and flaking. This has led to an increase in demand for protective hair styling techniques such as wearing lace wigs to protect one’s scalp, or track-and-sew weaving which provides natural haired women with more diverse, flexible options such as heat styling on a weave instead of one’s own hair while they transition after the “big- chop”. What hair care products or techniques do you recommend that clients follow in order to protect and nurture their hair?
Georgina: All our techniques used at our complimentary hair salons ensure protective styling for your Natural Hair. This is very important. My personal "go to" extensions for Growth are Illusion Hairline Lace Units with a customized elastic band for security. My hair remains in cornrows which I can wash once a week and I take off my unit at night when sleeping which also let's me protect my unit so it's a win win and so I don't leave any hair out for most of the year! Illusion Hairline Lace Units look just like your real Hairline and so no one has to know! Protect in style...
Kung'ara: The beauty and cosmetology industry at the moment is plagued with wellness phrases such as “Look good, feel good” and “You are what you eat”. It seems that preserving one’s personal representation also includes following a diet and exercise regimen. Are there any tips that you recommend your Nywele Creative clients to follow or that you follow yourself in order to maintain holistic inner and outer beauty?
Georgina: Yes, Eat! Eat well, Eat things you like in moderation like everything else in life, enjoy food and have a healthy exercise routine that makes you feel great from the inside. You need a balance - To Feel Great! It could be running, cycling at Karura, yoga, lifting weights, do you! Improve your posture, work on your abdominal strength to reduce back pains and bad posture and so many other things, read up! Drink enough water, Eat enough Fruits and Veg. Good Health makes a Good and Healthy mind!
When you feel your best, you look your best and that's what matters. Get away from social media and all these meal prep and flat tummy tea FADS, Get away from the waist trainer society and the smoothie bowls fill me up myths and have a filling breakfast, if you want one. Be yourself, that's what's beautiful. Make your dream home inside yourself so chose what you let in and accept yourself as you are. That's true happiness!
Kung'ara: Many women undergoing a weight-loss journey cite hairstyling and hair care concerns as a significant impediment to engaging in physical activity such as going to the gym or swimming, with most women reporting avoiding exercise for fear of interfering with a hairstyle. What protective hair styling tips would you give to clients who would like to engage in physical activity to maintain good health?
Georgina: If you've got an active lifestyle like me, Illusion Lace Wigs are my go to! I'm not ashamed to take off my wig in public when I need to. If you're a little shy you can opt for track n Sew which really resembles your Natural Hair and maintenance would be similar. However, if maintained correctly you can swim or engage in extreme physical activity with all our hair extension options. We would just urge you to take full advantage of our complimentary hair salon and come in every week as it is FREE of charge and that way you can keep your hair squeaky clean, fresh and hygienic.
Kung'ara: What's the essence of team work in your success so far and what message do you impart to your staff members for them to convey to clients as part of the Nywele Creative experience?
Georgina: The essence of our Team work is our ability to meet our clients demands and exceeding their expectations at all times by working together. Our team has grown over the years and we recruit individuals who have a strong passion for what we do and a strong ability to carry out professional services within this field. We put the core of our work, the reason we do what we do before any strategy, agenda or plan. We have to have a deep meaningful reason to do what we do and do it well and to deliver our promise. So we put those reasons before anything else and it enables us to perform the way we do and to the standard that we do. Every member of the team has a personal attachment to what we do.
Kung'ara: You're a fashion-forward woman and this is evident in the creative direction in your Nywele Creative campaigns. What would you go for on the Kung'ara online store for a casual weekend look? (outfits, bags and accessories)
Georgina: As you might know, I've been a Kungara client and fan for a long time. One of my most treasured handbags is from Ugandan Designer KONA which I bought a few years back and still rock today! Recently I've been admiring the playsuit in different block colors the playsuit is my Go to casual weekend look as days quickly turn into nights, so it's easy to transition in with a touch of lipstick! . Also there's some new jewellery pieces up on social media that I'd really love to rock. Of course also the Maxi Dresses, I love a good maxi... So chilled.