By Prudence Minayo
Lucy Kimani Wahu is the founder of Dawn Industries Limited, a company that manufactures cosmetics and personal care products. She founded the business after failing in her first venture and wanting to try something that would not only benefit the African market but her as well.
Here is the story as told by WoK.
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Lucy grew up in Nairobi’s Uhuru estate in a one bedroom house in a family of seven children. Her father was an inspector of works while her mother was a trader in Gikomba. Growing up, they would at times help their mother in her business picking up entrepreneurial skills along the way.
At one point, she also helped her sister run her cereal shop. After completing her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in Harambee School in Eastlands, she proceeded to Agha Khan High School in Westlands.
She would then enrol at Kenya School of Professional Studies where she pursued procurement. A year into the course, she felt bored and dropped out.
A friend of hers who was living in Copenhagen invited her there and she went. After three months, she returned to the country only to go back again.
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While in Copenhagen, she worked in the hotel industry with chains, like Hilton and Marriot Hotel. She started out as a cleaner before rising to supervisor and then housekeeper.
Kimani saved up her money and then moved to Malaysia to pursue a diploma in Public Relations. During her time in Malaysia, she made friends at the Kenyan embassy, one of who gave her business ideas.
The entrepreneur was then introduced to a pharmaceutical company that was looking for agents in Kenya. Hence, whenever she was on holiday in the country, she conducted a comprehensive research on the pharmaceutical industry.
Afterwards, she returned to the country and opened a business dealing in
pharmaceuticals. The company was located in Milimani. Unfortunately, the business folded due to a number of things and she went bankrupt.
Starting and growing Dona by Dawn, Dawn Industries
Still willing to continue pursuing her entrepreneurial journey, she decided to venture into another business. This time, she did not want to buy and sell products.
Instead, Kimani wanted to manufacture her own. Personal care products seemed to be the right choice, especially because of her skin. While in Malaysia, some people had given her their traditional formulations and it had really worked.
Her dry skin had gotten worse with even dermatologists recommended products failing to work. Making her own products seemed the right way to go.
She decided to manufacture products but did not know much about formulations. She did her research and found a skilled formulator who walked the journey with her.
She bought second hand equipment at the beginning and started productions. They made their first batch and sent it for testing at the relevant offices.
Their products passed the tests and they received certifications. This is how Dawn Industries began operations.
Their first shampoo sold after two weeks of aggressive marketing. This was followed by more products as customers slowly began to use their products.
It was a challenge at first to convince people to put trust in their products. Therefore, it was a happy moment when they began buying and even making repeat orders.
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