Each month we bring you an in depth article about a company working from the Garage, and discuss the innovation they are working on and how they are making Nairobi a better place. We introduce to you Amadiva, the iconic premier salon that caters to stylish women looking for choice in hair and beauty in Kenya.

What is Amadiva?

Amadiva is a premium salon franchise that is changing the beauty industry in Kenya. They focus on improving the opportunities in the informal sector, and redefining our interaction with hair and cosmetics across the nation. We’ve all had those cheesy experiences at the local barber shop. Overcrowded hair salons, small spaces, noisy patrons and lots of drama, tell me about it! Most of these salons on the street offer no personal stimulation and attention to customize individual beauty needs. Rather they indulge on price and less quality consciousness on building relationships between the stylist and clients. Therefore you go to the salon for the monotonous practice of getting your hair job done, and leaving as soon as possible without any need to speak to stylist about your own hair. Your immediate priority is getting out more than getting into the depth of understanding your own body and enjoying the experience investing in your own beauty. As women we are always on duty form home to work, we never give ourselves the luxury of obliviousness to think that we deserve a right to our own leisure. Yet we continue our missions and duties without hesitations. Most of those spaces, wherever you may run into them don’t offer a community ecosystem where you can come and dialogue about your hair and find the best expertise in the process. Amadiva is on a mission to change your thoughts on how to get your hair done! They are on a mission to create a sophisticated ecosystem for women to come and confidently evolve on agenda of dialoguing with beauty and hair in a safe environment. We met up with Amadiva’s Chief Project Officer, April Kamunde double hatting the SME as the lead at the marketing front. She spoke to us about her career launch at Amadiva, “Well I’ve been inspired by hair and beauty as a kid. My mother was in salons and a hair stylist herself on the other hand my dad was in corporate and we had to move all the time and start new salon everywhere. Professionally I have a biochemistry background, cosmetic chemistry was my intent. I worked after graduating just to get a job and along the way I started a jewelry shop to pay my bills. Soon after, I joined the Coke Corporation in finance to get exposure in a multinational company. But it didn’t work out for me I felt I was working hard to leave, even after being there for 5 years it never felt like a place for me.  I decided to start researching about the hair care industry and discovered Amadiva had gone out to develop their brand. From then on I started following them on social media as Maureen Murunga, our Founder had lots of presence on Youtube.  Amadiva was very visible to me. The opportunity to leave came and I sent Maureen a LinkedIn message to network with her on the idea of hair and beauty in Kenya. A week later she gave me call and I fit her position. I kicked into gear and was happy to work with Amadiva brand that was building a business as a local brand and catering to the local African community. That the story of my Amadiva journey!”

Services by Amadiva.

Amadiva beauty is an iconic beauty brand that delivers premium services for women and men who are looking for beauty products. They offer hair, beauty, nails, facial and cosmetic care for all clients interested in cosmopolitan luxury with Nairobi city.17437506_759230730900571_876309066530422784_n(1)

Amadiva’s Business Model

The founder Maureen also started in corporate, but she understood from here immediate exposure that there was a need to build an all-African brand. So she started off by buying two existing salons and now launched Amadiva from there onwards. While managing these two locations in the CBD she found herself in an impediment with her stylist and employees. Most of them wanted to start their own businesses. Upon studying this problem she brought herself in a solution that would become a new opportunity for young stylist across Kenya. She decided to help each stylist become their own entrepreneur and financed a salon for them to call their own under the umbrella of Amadiva. Amadiva’s business model is a catalyst for change trying to create a lucrative way to help stylists as independently as possibly.

April explained their success further, “Within a span of 2 years, these stylists have taken mortgages successfully and have dramatically changed the horizon for the informal sector in Nairobi. Some of the stylists make a hell lot of money because in all honesty the industry is incredibly informal. Based on the initial model we are supporting our stylists and building them.  By empowering stylists we give them the support that is difficult to find for informal sector artisans!”

Amadiva has now partnered with KCB foundation and Azizi School of Hair and Beauty, to fund for an education program that brands 40 deserving candidates in hair and beauty industry, as the fortunate apprentices of the Amadiva franchise model.

Challenges at Team Amadiva

Startups deal with lots of problems from capital launch, team building and establishing brand loyalty. However readjusting from corporate to startup environment setting is amongst the most challenging commitments team members at Amadiva have had to make. Since both Maureen and April come from a professional corporate environment.  Corporate structure offers job security and perks, yet startup is all about playing with risks. April added, “Adjusting to an SME team spirit where you have to be dedicated to double hat everything, from marketing to human resources. It has been extremely challenging, especially after being used to structure and organization in a corporate environment. I didn’t know how much value structure has, until I didn’t have it. Sometimes I am in the middle of a meeting and asking, “Guys there’s no one taking minutes for the meeting? Where’s the agenda?” I am always juggling and shifting gears. I have to think smart and fast, always on my toes. Thinking…planning of how to utilize current resources to max without wastage. Individually, I am proud of the fact that umm… During my career I have managed to excel in a lot of the spaces that I didn’t think I would traditionally excel in.  I am a biochemistry graduate but my first job was is finance. My roles and responsibilities grew and I have been awarded and recognized within my company. Just the fact that I was able to push through a situation I would have easily quit at since I didn’t have a finance background, gave me a spirit to deal with challenges in an optimistic manner. I still struggle at debit and credit with finance but the fact that I am able to work through it in the end of the day it truly the best part of my day.”

Amadiva’s Marketshare

Amadiva’s pioneer market share dwells in the informal sector. Their initial intake was going out to get access to people in the beauty and hair industry, who wouldn’t get the exposure or opportunity they deserve. As April defined most stylists have the passion but no access to financing, insurance and capacity building. Many are already working but have an invisible barrier to working on the next level therefore most remain just silent casual salons on neighborhood streets.

Amadiva is trying to build a paradigm shift for actual salon that wants to develop brand identity and sophistication in service. April further described the company mission, “We want to grow the informal sector from a “Mama Wanjiku” only salon to a fortune brand. Our market research suggests that the informal sector is an eleven billion Kenya shillings industry. There are 2.4 billion people in formal while in the hair industry we have 4.2 billion. Imagine how much more worth this industry is, full of potential, our market share is in formalizing the informal sector. An untapped market is out there and that why our partners like KCB wants a mutual benefit to tap into this market gap. There are 20,000 salons in Kenya, half of which are in Nairobi and therefore I can’t put a number, the potential is huge.  Another fact is that the hair and beauty industry is recession free. Everyone will go get a hair job; I will go get braids even in the most stressful predicament. For example is the political camps do you see people with bad hair? No! Women will get together and start a salon in the camp. We are a recession free industry! The investment is huge because we are actually skill building through experience, empowering women to be more than just housekeepers. We are moving and shaking the world for women in every dimension.”

Amadiva’s Vision

Amadiva’s vision is to help and support community stylists grow and stand on their own feet. Especially women bread winners living across the majority in Kenya. April expressed her love and diligence for Kenya, “Kenya is home. I would be hesitant to take an opportunity outside my home. I feel growth will happen in Kenya.  The trickledown effect is huge for women at the local level. Also we want to be an equal opportunity social enterprise resource for women. Providing a space where women can confidently be African and get their hair done without any tension or fuss of discrimination. I want women to leave the space feeling proud of themselves as African women inclusive of the satisfaction that the care is affordable and pampered. A walk in value for African beauty! Developing a process to exfoliate and appreciate organic African beauty. Sustaining an innovative and sophisticated beauty services brand that celebrates the independence and confidence of African women.”

So here you have it, to bring this wonderful female inspiring month to a grand finale, what’s better than hearing it from women at Amadiva who celebrate every African diva. Feel inspired and empowered to lead the world and don’t hesitate to dominate the entrepreneurial landscape with your girl spirit. It lives in you so spread it to the world! Keep shaking and rocking it with your beautiful smile :)

Learn more here on inspiring stories from Nairobi Garage.