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Lynn Wambui: How ‘A’ Student Rose From Selling Mitumba To Owning Multimillion Carpentry Business

Meet Lynn Wambui, a young woman who defied the odds to establish a highly successful furniture business in Kenya’s male-dominated industry. With her unique taste and keen eye for details, she has built a reputation for selling premium custom-made furniture.

From scoring an A in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary School (KCSE) examination, to selling clothes online, Lynn has risen to building a thriving business at the heart of Nairobi.

Here is her story as told by WoK.

Early Life and Challenges

Her journey to success began in Nakuru, where she was raised by her grandmother as a single parent. Tragically, Lynn lost her mother at a young age, but her grandmother’s strong, independent spirit left a lasting impact on her.

Being raised by a hardworking and resilient woman instilled in Lynn the values of determination and self-sufficiency from an early age.

Academic Pressure and University Days

As Lynn progressed through her education, she faced high expectations from her family and community. Being a community kid, she was raised not only by her grandmother but also by her grandfather, aunts, and uncles.

They all wanted her to achieve academic excellence and be independent. She was driven to meet these expectations and worked tirelessly to excel in school.

The pressure to maintain top grades was intense, but she persisted, aiming for nothing less than attaining As in her exams-which she did. Upon joining the university, Lynn faced another challenge – choosing her course of study.

Despite her passion for civil engineering, her family suggested she pursue project management to complement the expertise of another family member who was already an engineer. Lynn decided to follow their advice, though it wasn’t her true calling.

Venturing into Side Hustles

During her university years, Lynn embarked on internships that would shape her entrepreneurial journey.

On her first internship, she was paying her Ksh 10,000 a month and opened the door to quantity surveying, where she learned to create bills of quantities for various construction projects.

The experience ignited her entrepreneurial spirit, and she began to explore opportunities beyond her studies.

Selling Clothes Online

Another internship introduced her to the world of online business. Lynn started selling sweaters through an Instagram page, leveraging her marketing skills to connect with potential customers. She would source them from Toi market.

The experience taught her valuable lessons in managing her own business while balancing academics. She did this for a year while still in school but soon ditched it as it was not a scalable business.

The Birth of Santana Africa

Upon graduating from university, the businesslady found herself questioning her career path. She felt unfulfilled and sought to explore her true passion.

Determined to find a scalable business idea, she brainstormed daily, listing various options. Furniture-making came up as the fifteenth idea, and the name “Santana Africa” struck her as the perfect fit, inspired by the renowned musician Carlos Santana.

Despite having limited funds and no prior experience in carpentry, Lynn’s determination led her to approach a furniture maker, David, with a proposition to market his products.

With David’s consent, she capitalized on her marketing skills and took to Instagram to showcase the furniture items. Her efforts would soon pay off.

In a past interview seen by WoK, Lynn narrates how the first client reached out looking for a new bed as he was moving back to Kenya. She recounts how her transparency and keeping the client updated on the progress of the bed won the client’s confidence and he would give Lynn more work to furnish his new house.

And just like that, Santana Africa was born. She did not have a workshop of her own. She started small by working with established fundis to execute orders as she received them through referrals.

Overcoming Challenges and Growing the Business

As a young woman in a male-dominated industry, Lynn faced numerous challenges. Earning respect from her team and navigating the dynamics of authority as a female boss required patience and understanding.

Effective communication and mutual respect with her employees proved to be essential in managing the business successfully.

Lynn’s determination to continuously improve her craft and deliver high-quality furniture paid off. Santana Africa gained recognition as a bespoke design company, known for its unique taste and attention to detail.

As Lynn’s business expanded, she never lost sight of her values, ensuring that customers received not only exceptional furniture but also an exceptional experience.

The Vision for Santana Africa

Looking ahead, Lynn envisions expanding Santana Africa into other countries, establishing a retail presence, and supplying furniture to the hotel industry. Her aspiration to grow her business and serve a broader clientele demonstrates her ambition and commitment to excellence.

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Lynn emphasizes that starting a business doesn’t necessarily require substantial capital. She believes that with the right idea, drive, patience, and resourcefulness, anyone can build a successful venture.

Her journey serves as a testament to the power of determination and hard work, inspiring aspiring entrepreneurs to chase their dreams relentlessly.

In the Workshop: Learning the Craft

In a hands-on experience, Lynn is quite hands on and works closely with her staff to sand and varnish a piece of furniture, providing insights into the importance of craftsmanship and attention to detail in creating high-quality products.