Business is most definitely not easy. It requires discipline and passion more than anything else. A business that requires time to craft the product is even harder because it needs research, perseverance and resilience. But being behind a business that necessitates skill and at the same time being a full-time student at the university? Now that’s inspirational.
Clara Njeri is a 23-year-old student at the University of Nairobi. On top of that, she is an entrepreneur who has managed to transform her hobby into an income-generating activity. In 2018, she founded a reputable organic body and skincare brand by the name Natural Glam Kenya. The business will be celebrating its third birthday this year July, and it has undoubtedly helped many women with skin conditions such as acne, eczema and hyperpigmentation.
I sat down with Clara to find out the inspiration behind the brand, as well as to discover how she transformed her hobby into a business.
- Who is Clara Njeri?
Clara is a social outgoing butterfly but who also craves and loves her personal time. I am strong, have a sense of humour and I love comedies. I love to read and sleep. I am fun, bubbly and seriously outspoken. I founded Natural Glam which is a company that sells handcrafted body and skincare products. Other than that I am a student at the University of Nairobi. I am pursuing a degree in Economics and Statistics and I recently finished my university course work.
- Give us a background of how the business came to be
In 2017 I was battling several skin issues. I had acne and obviously it was bothering me. So I started researching on products that help with skincare. I would make these products by myself at home. That’s when Natural Glam was born. Seeing as these products helped me fix my skin issues, I realized that I could also help other people out there to improve the condition of their skin. I started the brand with my first product being charcoal soap. That was in July 2018. So I would say Natural Glam started as a hobby and then transformed into this great business.
- How does your personality tie in with what you do?
Well, I have a creative mind and I get bored quite easily. Natural Glam has proven to be an outlet for creativity. It helps me get out of my regular routine and find ways of improving my business through research and learning different things related to the business.
- Where did you get the knowledge on handcrafting the products?
In this digital age, Google is your best friend. A lot of the things that I learnt came from the internet. I did a lot of research and learnt about how these products react with different types of skin. Before using these skincare products it’s essential to understand your skin type. So all this research helped me in great ways. Other times I was just playing around with things in the soap lab, and they worked. I thought that I could help other people deal with their skin issues by providing these natural handcrafted products.
- Why Natural Glam, as opposed to all other brands?
As I’ve said, Natural glam is a family of tight glam friends. While other brands could be just as good as ours, Natural Glam is more than just a product. It’s an experience and it’s a bond between our clients and us. We follow up with all of our customers and are keen to find out what went right or wrong. We try to solve the problems of each of our clients and I think that’s another thing that brings them back.
- How do you manage to retain your customers?
I think first of all our product speaks for itself. Word of mouth advertising is very important in business. Secondly, our business goes beyond that. It’s a family. We are concerned about our clients and how the products continue to work for them. Lastly, I’d say God has been very good to me throughout this journey.
- Why organic products? Is there any downside to using purely natural products as opposed to those that are chemical-based?
I would say that natural products are a gift. They are sustainable and do not harm the environment. I prefer natural products because they have more long term benefits. It’s like following through a Mediterranean diet other than eating junk food.
- How do you manage your finances at such a young age? Did you take any courses?
Well… No actually. I didn’t take any courses on finances. Once again Google and books have been my friend for the longest time. From childhood, my dad instilled in me this habit of reading and researching, and so it’s something that I have been practising for a while. I am grateful to have been brought up in this way because I attribute my business accomplishments to this factor. I wouldn’t say that I have completely figured out how to work around my finances, but I am definitely getting there.
- Kindly elaborate on the finance bit. How do you end up not spending all of your profits? What does it take to build these strong habits?
Well, I would say it’s discipline. It’s not that I have not ended up in situations with poor financial habits. I have, but I’ve learnt that once you stick to the correct habits it becomes a part of you. With such discipline, you have a sane logical mind that allows you to manage your finances as best as you can.
- What is your biggest achievement in this business?
Well, I can’t quite pinpoint to one achievement. I think that all of our small baby steps are achievements. One thing to note though is the fulfilment that comes with creating products and getting positive feedback from our clients. It’s the best feeling to know that you have been part of the solution to someone’s problem and uplifted their self-esteem.
- When did you open up the physical stores? Why did you feel the need to have a physical store on top of the online store?
Actually we opened our physical store two years after we started Natural Glam. That was in May 2019. I wouldn’t say that the online store was insufficient, but we realized that Natural Glam was not just selling products. We are trying to build a community and make our clients our friends. That’s why we decided to open up the physical store. The store is located in the Central Business District which is convenient for most people. We are on Moi Avenue, in the building directly opposite Bihi Towers on the first floor, store number M4B on the first floor.
- I must say you have a very beautiful brand profile. How did you build your brand identity?
Wow, thank you very much. Pink is my favourite colour, so I think I resonate with it a lot. On top of it being a beautiful colour, I think it’s more than that. It’s an attitude as well. It represents compassion and love. So I felt that it was in line with the message that we were trying to pass across to our target audience. That’s why we chose this colour. As for the fonts, we try to use funky and attractive writings so to appeal to our mostly female target audience.
- What is the inspiration behind Natural Glam?
My clients are my inspiration. All the positive feedback that I get fuels my energy to keep on doing the work. The fact that there are so many people who come back telling me that they love my products helps me to keep at it. As much as it can be tiresome, I really love what I do and that helps me to a great extent.
- Lastly, what advice would you give to business startups and people trying to transform their hobbies into income-generating activities?
I would tell them that they shouldn’t give up. Be consistent and don’t listen to everyone’s opinions, you will get confused and may end up failing. Learn to trust yourself and listen to your gut. Lastly, listen to your parents. They know what they’re saying. Take both positive and negative criticism from your clients, and learn to put God first.