Mwende Frey has been a trending topic on various social media platforms ever since she decided to open her Man’s Chamber, a “men only” barbershop, in February 2022.

Real name Fridah Mwende, she has been trolled and praised in equal measure for opting to serve only male clients at her barbershop which is located at Kamakis, Kiambu County. 

Swala Nyeti sat down with the 27-year-old entrepreneur and she shared more about her childhood, inspirations, dealing with trolls and the vision she has for her barbershop after opening a strip-bar next door:

What was your childhood like and what did you like doing growing up?

I was always top three in my class. I am a middle child, I spent most of my time by myself. I loved reading story books, so I read very many to expand my knowledge.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?

I was born and raised in Embu County. Like most kids, I wanted to be different things but I was focused on doing something that would help people and make a big change.

Mwende receiving a prize for being a top performer at St Michael Primary School. PHOTO/FRIDAH MWENDE 

Where did you school and what career path did you specialize in?

I went to St Michael Primary School and St Teresa Kithimu High School, both in Embu, then proceeded to Kenyatta University. I majored in Theatre Arts and Film Technology.

What were you doing before you ventured into the barbershop business?

I was selling a variety of beauty products serving the female clientele in Nairobi.

Mwende with her late grandmother. PHOTO/FRIDAH MWENDE

What drove you to open the Man’s Chamber barbershop?

I have always pampered my little boy to spa days at home. I realized men being pampered was not normalized in Kenya, so I decided to open a full-body grooming spa and normalize the culture for my son and all men out here.

I was told there is another reason why you opened the Man’s Chamber and it is a mater very close to your heart. Is it something you mind sharing with us?

I lost my grandmother in December 26, 2021. She meant a lot to me and played a key role in raising me. We buried her on January 1, 2022 and I opened the Man's Chamber in February 2022 in her memory That was my way of grieving her.

Sorry about your grandmother. At least something good came out of the grief. When and how much did it cost you to start up the barbershop?

It cost me around Sh300,000 to start. We started as just two rooms, barbershop and aftershave, but the community helped me expand eventually.

What led you to choose that particular location in Kamakis?

It was closer to home. I used to go breastfeed my baby during lunch time.

What have you learnt about the business and people since you opened shop?

I have learnt that business is built and sustained by the community and no one can make it alone.

What do you believe is the main attraction of Man’s Chamber to the men and why did you specifically choose to deal with men only?

I think that men see how passionate and determined we are. Every client that has walked in is treated like a king. We choose to work with men only because at the time, there was no ‘Man Only’ spa. Women have lots of options already.

Have you ever had any incident with girlfriends or wives of your male clients ever since you opened?

Yes, once a woman came to search for her man at the barbershop. We told her she has to wait at the parking and give her man space.

Some of the services you offer are controversial, like shaving men’s privates and strippers, how have men reacted to these both online and offline?

Kenyan men are really hearty people, they appreciated the men-centered services. The only men who call our business a brothel are the ones who can’t afford these services. Our clients are mature men, who respect women, especially the ladies at Man’s chamber.

What inspires you every day to continue with the job you have chosen, even during the bad days?

My team inspires me. They look up to me to deliver and for the sake of their livelihoods I wont stop. Most of all, I am inspired by our many clients, they have trusted me with their wellness needs and for them, I will always make sure the spa runs effectively.

Who are your roles models in business and in life?

They are many. I admire Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi and my late grandmother.

What made you open a bar next to the barbershop with strippers and how has the reception been?

I just love entertainment and I wanted to open a place where men can enjoy a cold drink while waiting to get served at the barbershop.

Where do envision your businesses to be in the next five years and what are you planning to venture into next?

We are definitely hoping to have more branches. We are also looking into bringing in new forms of body wellness and grooming services for men.

What mistakes have you made in your current businesses and what lessons have you picked from them?

Listening to bullies is the biggest mistake I ever made. I wasted so much valuable time.

How have you used social media to boost your business?

I was very active on social media before opening the shop. So, I just continued posting on my personal socials and boldly selling my business – Man’s Chamber.

How do you deal with trolls on social media?

When people bully me or troll my business, I switch off my feelings and turn on my mind to work even harder. By doing this, I have trained my brain to use trolling as a dopamine source.

Away from your kinyozi businesses, how do you unwind?

If I am not working, I am spending time with my baby boy, gardening, cooking or reading a novel.

What are your views on love and family and do you also shave the man in your life?

Love and family are what matters most in life. A person who neglects their family doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, I am the one who shaves my man and give him body massages.