1. Who is Bernice Mwigina and what was her childhood like?

Bernice Mwigina is a girl who was born in Dandora Phase 4 here in Nairobi. I grew up in Kariobangi South and Kimathi estates but went to school in my Western Kenya home region. I come from a small village called Mago in Shamakhokho in Vihiga County. My childhood was that of a normal kid who liked watching cartoons, also playing house, yaani kalongolongo

2. What did you love growing up and what did you want to be when you grow up?

I loved watching TV and making clothes for my doll. Growing up I always wanted to be a lawyer, then along the way I changed my mind and decided to be a journalist, after watching Esther Arunga and I really admired her. I knew I'd want to do what she was doing at the time and that's how I found myself studying Journalism and Mass Communication.

3. You were in media before, what were you doing and what was that experience like?

Yes, I was in media for four years and I was a production assistant in the newsroom, the experience was good, I must say. Being in the media taught me to keep time as that is very important when working in a busy newsroom like the Citizen tv one. So, I really dislike people who don't keep time. I also got to learn from the great people I met while working there like former Chief Operating Officer (COO) Farida Karoney, my then director Caroline Kamau and former news anchor Kirigo Ng'arua.

4. What made you switch from media to the beauty sector?

Well when I lost my Job in 2016, I had a lot of time to think, and while at it, I was an emotional wreck, and my hair was a mess. Then I went to the salon to have my hair done, my mood changed immediately. I was so excited and thought why not venture into this and change women's moods. I also felt that with media things had become monotonous for me and I wanted something challenging.  I established the hair salon business in March, 2020, right at the time when Covid-19 had just started hitting Kenya hard and lockdowns commenced.

5. What does it take to start and operate a salon?

It takes patience, and consistency, you have to be patient with a client to understand her needs on what exactly does she want, some clients are very picky and you have to really listen to them on what they really want. You have to be consistent on the current trends and to keep up with the latest fashion.

6. Why did you decided to specialize in braids and not other hairstyles?

Well, we major mostly in braids, that's what people love as the braids and cornrows are easy to maintain. Some women stopped relaxing their hair and have opted to either remain natural or wear braids and cornrows as they're a fast, to-go and cheaper styles. Unlike the relaxers, you have to go to the salon at least twice a month.

7. How much capital did you use to set up and how much does it cost to operate it daily and monthly?

I used roughly around Sh500,000 to set up, but you can even spend upto Sh5 million depending on location and the interior. This entirely depends on one's budget, as one could even start a salon with 5000 shillings. We roughly spend between Sh30,000 - Sh60,000, but I realised buying products in wholesale can cut that cost by a half.

8. Are the profits worth the work and time you put in?

Let's just say that whatever work and effort you put into it, you’ll always find the fruits, so yes, I can't complain.

9. What are some of the key challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?

Getting a team that has the same vision as mine. When I first started, I got a team that wasn't patient with working in a new salon as getting a clientele was quite a challenge. Also there are some employees who would vow that they know how to do a certain style and when you ask them to do it on a client, they end up messing the client's hair and time, so you end up losing that badly needed client. So, I've learnt to give a hairdresser work, when I've seen them do the same exact style a client wants.

10. What about your business makes you smile each day and make you not give up?

The fact that there're are other people in this same business, who randomly text me and say, they admire our work, and we're a source of their motivation; this makes me not give up as I know there's someone somewhere who looks upto me.

11. Where do you want to take your business and when will you say you have made it?

I will want to add nails and beauty services. I'll know I've made it when I can be able to employ up to 30 people. With 30 employees who, maybe 5 or 10 people, are depending on at home, I will be greatful for that.

12. What have you learnt about business, especially the hair business?

That time and honesty really matters. Tell the client the truth that you can't pull a certain style that she wants, but you're perfect in something else. If she's willing to try it out, you'll have forever won that client. Also when a client books an appointment for a certain time, stick to the time allocated and she'll always come back.

13. What is that one thing a client has told you that has changed your perspective of the business?

A client told me to always be consistent in posting because I never know who's watching.

This has really paid off as we get clients from all over, including all the way from the USA.

14. How many employees do you have and what lessons have you learnt from them?

I currently have four employees. The biggest lesson I've learnt from them is to always listen to your employees, they have great ideas that can help your business grow.

15. Who do you look up to in the business world and in your personal life?

In the business world, I'd say Esther Muchemi. In my personal life, I look up to God because there's no manual to this life, you know.

16. How do you balance between your work and personal life?

I always try to find a balance, so I've sort of created a routine where I dedicate a day out of my work to spend quality time with my family.

17. Tell us more about your tweet to Caroline Mutoko and what it changed about your business.

I believe in knocking doors because you never know who'll answer. I tweeted Caroline Mutoko because she's a great woman, and among the few women in the media who dorn cornrows as opposed to wigs. I didn't think much of it, and when she responded and KOT also helped in persuading her. I felt honored. Since then people come to get their hair done at the salon courtesy of her. I am greatly thankful to her.