Catherine Mbatha is the proprietor of Kate de Barbershop and Spa situated in Diani, Kwale County.
Her interest in barbering started while she was in college in Nairobi, and admired how barbers did their job.
She later got a job as a shampoo girl in a local barbershop, a job that defined her path to success.
Today, she runs her own barbershop and has created employment for other people among them four barbers.
Here is Catherine’s story as told by WoK.
After completing her secondary school education, Catherine moved to Nairobi for her college studies.
However, while at it, she would frequent a local barbershop on her way to school and she was fascinated with how they worked.
A while later, she was employed at the barbershop as a shampoo girl; her work involved washing clients’ hair after a shave and earned Ksh 1,000 a day.
With time, she would shave whenever children would walk-in and ask for less complicated haircuts.
Six months into the job, she had sharpened her skills and when she returned to Diani, she was employed as a barber.
In an interview with Nation, she noted that starting off was not easy as clients were reluctant to be attended to by a female barber.
“With time, I think they loved the idea of being shaved by a woman. It is then that I started saving with the vision of putting up my own business,” Catherine said.
Catherine worked as a barber for a year before she quit to start her own business using Ksh 140,000 which she had saved.
She used the money to buy a seat, shaving machines and co-rented the premises with a friend.
It was not long before the business generated enough money that enabled her to buy another seat and hire a barber.
“Whenever I got a new client, he always came back for a trim from me. This gave me confidence that this was a sustainable business, which motivated me to expand it even further,” she stated.
Business was doing good and early 2022, she moved to a bigger space and hired three more barbers to attend to the growing demand.
“My customers also started asking for massage services, so I expanded my space upstairs to have a massage parlour
There was no need for them to have hair services here and then seek other services from another shop,” Catherine said.
Other than shaving, they also offer other services including dreadlocks installation, manicure and pedicure services.
Catherine also does house calls for clients who may find a difficulty or unable to visit her physical location.
She attributes her success in the business to quality services, a clean environment and good customer relations.
Catherine charges between Ksh 300 to Ksh 5,000 for a haircut.
“I now shave a number of the high-level personalities in this county, including the former governor. I’m humbled that each of my customers trusts me to do the job,” she stated.
She noted that running such a business needs much sacrifice.
“Managing such a business is not easy. It requires one to be present at all times to ensure that everything runs as it should
“It also needs you to have the skills you are offering so that you set the standards for your employees,” she explained.