Businesswoman Emma Too is a former model and TV girl who was once crowned Miss Africa, Kenya. Her beauty and striking presence made her a darling of many. At the time, her appearance at an event was a massive boost for the organizers.
Since quitting the industry, Emma maintained a low profile, running her businesses. However, she made it to the national headlines on October 12, 2022, amid rising concerns of noise pollution by entertainment joints and restaurants in the posh Kileleshwa area.
This came after the Nairobi City County held a meeting with the owners of 43 clubs and restaurants which had been earmarked for closure over noise complaints by residents. During the meeting, Citizen TV News Anchor trevor Ombija who is the owner of Samaki Samaki Restaurant which was among the 43, claimed that a neighbour brought noise complaints against his establishment over a botched deal.
“I have a neighbour who wanted us to shut down because I did not give her a landscaping job.”
“We reduced our volume completely all other neighbours were ok with our attempts, except her so I offered to go the extra mile of soundproofing as a last resort she still refused,” he said.
In a statement on social media, Emma came out to reveal that she was the neighbour in question, further calling out the journalist for the conduct of his business.
“Now, how do you soundproof a split-level house and not the actual club?! What will other residents do? Will they also soundproof the whole street? Turn down the music and stop parking at my house,” she questioned.
Emma further shared a video of from inside her house and loud music can be heard playing from a nearby establishment.
She denied some allegations made by Ombija and expressed displeasure at his remarks.
“I have been very consistent in my cry about the said establishment and I have never attacked them or even said the name here,” she said.
“I’m truly the wrong lady to intimidate! I’m not even shocked that’s how he thinks he can solve this! I have been very clear about what they should do!”
Emma was graceful to a fault, and this opened many doors in her career. She travelled to various parts of the country and the world to model, and each time, she learnt something new and continued to grow.
During a past interview with the Standard, Emma stated that she left the industry to focus on her personal life and get married, but it did not happen. She had also injured her ribs in a horse-riding accident and thought that it would be better to try a long-term career.
Since leaving the beauty industry, Emma moved on to landscaping. She can be found busy with her knees in the dirt designing spaces.
“Modelling was something everyone said would suit me, not something that sprung from within. I was always a landscape designer at heart, and always felt more at ease doing that than working the runway. Even growing up, I had my own little garden and thought I would end up being an architect, designing spaces,” she revealed.
Though she was a model and had it all, the tag ‘beauty queen’ never sat well with Emma.
“What I struggle with at this point is getting people to take me seriously. To look past my modelling career. Sometimes I am the only female in the field and those who recognise me can’t separate who I used to be and who I am now. That has cost me some jobs,” she said.
She recounted an incident during a negotiation where the lady in charge asked her is she was Miss Kenya.
“She then told me that she was going to call me about the project later but the call never came through. On construction sites, the men I work with will insist on calling me ‘Miss Kenya’ rather than with my name. Funny though, I have never been a Miss Kenya, I was the Face of Africa, Kenya,” Emma narrated.
Emma hates the general notion that models are not the brightest people. She explained that in the course of her career, people assume that she is not very bright and when she bags a job, they assume it is not out of merit.
She, however, notes that the assumptions motivated her and inspired her dedication to her new line of work.
“I have had to work doubly hard, and just let my work speak for itself. It meant doing work for free at first, just to prove that I could do it and I have found that word of mouth works very well when your work is good.
“In a way, being judged a bit more harshly worked out because it means I am conscious of things around me. Good thing about my job is that when you do it well, you win people over.”
Emma explains that she offers quality services to her clients by ensuring maximum safety in her work. She noted that she often turns down jobs if they compromise the safety of the people who use the facilities.
She notes that Kenyans are not too cautious on safety and in some instances use wrong products for the purpose which may sometimes lead to life threatening situations. She proceeded to explain an incident where her mother almost died.
“I was 10 when I watched my mum slip and fall down a flight of stairs. She landed on her spine, needing so many surgeries. For a while there, she couldn’t speak, walk or use her hands. Well, she still uses the wheelchair to date. Watching a once vibrant person, one who ran multiple businesses and kept a day job reduced to a shell, was the hardest moment of my life.”
Emma notes that her mother is her biggest influence and inspiration.
“She speaks several Kenyan languages and never forgets people and finer details about them. She is a people person, always receiving guests every weekend, whereas I can stay in my house for 30 or 40 days without a guest. I am an introvert.”
She further added that she is an introvert which is hard to believe since she was a TV girl and often socialised with high profile people.
“I was a very timid person when I got into modelling the first time. I was very shy and could not express myself. Very nervous and anxious and I think it is because I was not exposed to a lot of people.
“I grew up at a time when parents believed that locking you up would keep you out of trouble. When I got the chance to get out, it was scary because I was used to being indoors and all of a sudden I am out. One day I am at Mandela’s party, meeting him, the next I am in London meeting actors. Things I could never have imagined happening to me.”
Emma is the eldest of three children; two girls and a boy. Their parents separated when their mother was expecting their youngest brother. Emma was very young at the time.
At the time of the interview, Emma did not reveal whether she was in a relationship or not, but shared a little dating advice.
“The best advice I ever got? I went to a wedding and I was in the bridal lineup. One of the things one of the older ladies told the bride was, ‘Don’t do anything you are not ready to do the rest of your life together.’ Be yourself and don’t try to pretend to be something you aren’t because you can’t sustain it,” she said.
She further explained that marriage to her is all up to God, not oneselft.
“I am a strong believer that everything that happens to me, God has willed it to. As for having children and a husband, if God wills it, well and good. If it does not happen, I have made peace with it. Not everyone is supposed to end up in that direction. God plans for everybody, and things happen for everybody at different times. I believe my happiest moment is yet to come.”
She notes that she never bows to external pressure and prioritises her happiness.
“I think my happiness is more important than the pressure I would receive from the society expecting me to live a certain way because at my age I should be married with children and all that. You should not be with someone who does not add value and respect and value you.”
“I went through a stage where I struggled to stay in bad relationships. In my 20s I was in very toxic relationships. I wish I knew then what I know now but I think they moulded who I am and I am better at it now because of that but there is that aspect of that time that I wish did not happen, but my mistakes have been my lessons,” she said.
Emma’s friendship circle also evolved over time.
“I used to be a believer in having many friends but in recent years, that has changed. I came to realise that there are people you allow into your life that are toxic. There are people who will be smiling at you but say negative things behind your back. I have learned to disconnect from such people. I would rather keep a small circle of friends that will add value and build me,” she said.
What makes her happiest, however, is working outdoors.
“I get the most sense of fulfillment when I am landscaping and seeing the transformation. I enjoy shopping for the plants, choosing them one by one. I get thrilled about it. I enjoy buying plants even when I don’t need them and keeping them around my place. I just enjoy nature in general,” Emma said.