Leaving the comfort and security of a stable job in the banking industry to venture into the unknown world of entrepreneurship requires a considerable amount of courage and determination.
Lucy Wanjau, a former banker, exemplifies this boldness as she embarked on her remarkable journey from the financial sector to become the founder of Zaron Kenya Limited, a successful beauty products distribution company.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Here is her story as told by WOK
Lucy’s story begins with her years in the banking industry, where she observed her superiors who had spent over a decade in the same industry.
“I used to look at my bosses who had been in the banking industry for 15 years and it was scary to imagine that I would be in it for that long,” Lucy told Business Daily.
She couldn’t help but feel uneasy about the prospect of being tied to the same job for such a long time.
That realization sparked a desire for change and led her to explore new avenues beyond banking.
In 2017, while still working as a banker, Lucy took her first step towards entrepreneurship.
Armed with a modest capital of Ksh100,000, she ventured into selling fast-moving consumer goods on the popular Jumia app.
Although she hadn’t fully transitioned out of her banking role, this venture marked the beginning of her entrepreneurial spirit.
Lucy’s passion for entrepreneurship grew, and she later registered a distribution company for Kim-Fay Products.
However, it was a fateful encounter that would change the trajectory of her life.
Oke Maduewesi, the founder of Zaron Cosmetics, arrived in Kenya looking for distributors, and Lucy seized the opportunity.
She signed the contract, but as with any new venture, there were challenges to overcome.
The first hurdle was raising enough funds to import her initial consignment of Zaron Cosmetics products.
Determined to make her dreams a reality, Lucy took a bold step and left her banking job.
“I realised that I could afford to take risks because I was still young. So I quit my banking job.” She added.
This allowed her the freedom to fully dedicate herself to her entrepreneurial pursuits.
While she had the contract, the company needed to see evidence of her ability to handle the financial demands of being their sole distributor in Kenya.
Undeterred, she turned to her family for support and successfully raised Sh1.4 million to ship in her first consignment.
The beginning was tough.
In the initial month of business, she faced the harsh reality of not selling a single item. But Lucy’s persistence and resourcefulness eventually paid off.
After several months of hard work, networking, and sharing product samples, she began to gain traction.
Beauty store owners started taking notice, and her customer base expanded through referrals.
Lucy’s journey wasn’t without its challenges.
Cash flow problems in the first year prevented her from bringing in more consignments, potentially limiting her growth.
“In the first year, I had cash flow problems and could not bring in more consignment. I would have probably sold more than I did,” said the founder of Zaron Kenya Limited.
However, her dedication to the cause paid off, and Zaron Kenya Limited grew steadily over the years.
The beauty products market was fiercely competitive, making it difficult to penetrate. Yet, Lucy Wanjau found her niche with women customers who valued self-care.
She chose to stay small and focused on providing quality products and exceptional service, which set her apart from the crowd.
As the company flourished, the businesslady faced a series of challenges that come with growth.
Access to credit without security was a major obstacle, as was dealing with compliance, registration, resource management, and inventory. Scaling the business and establishing systems to stabilize operations added complexity to her entrepreneurial journey.
One of the most significant challenges was the lack of mentors in her industry.
Despite reaching out to potential mentors, she found that their busy schedules often hindered their ability to provide guidance.
However, the entrepreneur discovered support and camaraderie within entrepreneur support groups, such as Sandbox capacity building, which offered valuable insights and encouragement.
Through her journey, Lucy Wanjau learned valuable lessons about leadership and inspiring her team.
She realized the importance of presenting herself in a way that exuded confidence and professionalism, which played a crucial role in selling her makeup products effectively.