The Beauty Queen: Kenyan Entrepreneur Shares on Her Journey in the Beauty Industry in Kenya and Germany

Anisa Suleiman’s passion for cosmetics started when she was at St Brigid’s Girls High, Kitale.

“Whenever we had outings like drama festival, I was the go-to person for homemade makeup,” she says. “I would use raspberry Schweppes as lipstick and cocoa for face powder which surprisingly transformed the girls enough for them to come back a second time!”

Her passion was boosted after high school when her aunt, who owned a salon in Mombasa (Mimi’s), gave her a job as a shampoo girl.

“I loved everything beauty and loved to make people look and feel beautiful.”

In 2004, she decided to spread her wings.Leaving her young daughter with a trusted aunt, she moved to Germany, where she enrolled for German classes and a cosmetic course at the Mannheimer Berufsfachschule für Kosmetik, Film­ und Bühnencosmetologie.

In 2008, her hard-earned certificates in hand, she went job hunting. “I got a job, but they wanted me to work for months without pay. So I turned my house into a mini salon doing nails for college students.” When her landlord complained about all the people coming and going, she decided to get a shop.

Using her savings and money loaned to her by a friend, she opened Nisha’s Beauty World. “The Mannheim shop did so well that I came back to Kenya and opened a branch in Mombasa,” Anisa says.”My sister helps run the Mombasa branch when I am away.”

(READ: Kenyan Entrepreneurs Establish First Kenyan Cosmetic Company in Germany)

Anisa employs nine people in both salons, and plansto open a beauty college in Mombasa.

Anisa is also involved in the manufacturingof beauty products. “In 2014, I partnered with (fellow Kenyan) Dr Elly Cherwon on Anel254 (a cosmetics line mainly for women of colour).We make cream toner, acne cream, cleansing milk, tonic water and body lotion. We are currently working on expanding the range to perfumes and hair products.’

Anisa says that when she opened a branch in Mombasa, the biggest challenge was getting the German­ made stock safely to Kenya. Fortunately, she found an English shipping company that does it quickly and securely.

As a businesswoman with two salons and a single mother of two (Tanisha, 16, and Malik, 10), Anisa has her work cut out staying on top of things. That’s why she starts every day with an hour in the gym to keep her fit and toned for the busy day ahead.

When she has free time, she enjoys swimming, dancing, watching movies and cooking African food.

And her future plans? For her business to go international. After all,’I’m puttingin the hard work now.One day it will pay off.

In Nairobi, Anel254 products can be found at the Ava Pharmacy at the Hub, Karen, and at Beauty Wholesale on Kimathi Street. (www.anel254.de)

Source: True Love East Africa

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