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SBS Alumni get Entrepreneurship Tips from Suzie Wokabi

  Nov 18, 2014

Venturing into one’s own business has never been an easy task. More so, if it is a business that few have taken on. Entrepreneurship calls for courage and belief that no matter the odds, you will make it work. Such was the path of Suzie Wokabi, Founder and CEO of Suzie Beauty. The SBS Alumni women had the opportunity to get entrepreneurship lessons from Suzie during the Great Africans’ Getaway that was held at the Great Rift Valley lodge from 14th-16th November, 2014.

Suzie Wokabi, a pioneer in Kenya Cosmetic Industry, began her business in 2007 at a time when there was very little competition in make- up artistry in Kenya. Like many business startups, Suzie Beauty also faced many hurdles.

Initially Suzie was not sure about what she wanted to do in the line of make- up artistry. To her it was a “naïve thought,” however today she can easily smile and advice, “if you want to start a business and you feel clueless about where to begin, figure it out and just do it. If you love something you will always find a way to do it, provided you are driven by passion.”

When Suzie returned to Kenya from U.S, where she had been living since 2001, she came back with make- up samples that she would use on her clients in the initial phases of her business. However, the samples soon ran out and she had to purchase more products locally. Unfortunately she found that most of the products were fake and the genuine products were too expensive. She resorted to importing, which also proved futile because most times, she would receive wrong products. Her frustration is what fuelled the need to create genuine, high quality and affordable African make- up brand.

The other challenge she faced was raising funds to begin production. Despite knocking on the doors of many banks, she did not get much help. But giving up was not an option.

Work life balance is an important factor to consider for any business practitioner. For Suzie who has a crazy schedule, it has not been easy combining work and family life. Nevertheless, the fact that her husband runs the business with her has helped a lot. “He understands the dynamics that go into running Suzie Beauty, so I do not have to go home and rant about how difficult my day was because he knows,” she said. Furthermore, the couple has learnt to work their schedules around their two son’s lives.

There have also been positive factors that have been a source of encouragement to Suzie. Among them are the accolades that she has received. Suzie Beauty has received seven awards since its inception and that only goes to say that she is doing a great job. Also, she shares the story of how she began her business on different platforms and the positive feedback she gets is an indication she is on the right track and that things can only get better.

Suzie concluded her experience by giving the Alumni three P’s that an entrepreneur must always have in mind : passion, perseverance and patience. “Without these three, you will not survive,” she advised.

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