Despite churning out hits since the early 2000s, Wahu Kagwi still remains relevant in the industry. She continues to do music while running her business Afro Siri Salon.
She was also recently appointed as a manager at KEPSA Foundation. All this while being a mother to two and a wife to fellow musician David ‘Nameless’ Mathenge.
The secular-tuned gospel musician spoke to EveWoman about how she juggles it all.
What challenges did you have setting up a business in terms of brand building and acquiring clients?
The most difficult part was finances. My partner Joan and myself did not have enough money to market Afro Siri in platforms like TV and that is how we ended up going the social media advertising way.
How has your celebrity status affected your business?
When we started out in December 2012, we deliberately left out the fact that I was a shareholder at Afro Siri. This is because we wanted it to have a reputation of its own. We wanted it to grow and have credibility. It was not until two years later that we disclosed the links between Afro Siri and me. The fact that I am celeb keeps me on toes since we receive high profile clients and I do not want them to feel like they are doing me a favour being there. I want them to get value for their money.
How do you run the place? Do you focus on all aspects? Administrative, Financial, Operations or do you delegate?
My partner Joan and I hold the top directive positions but we have a very strong and proper executing team who ensure smooth running of the place.
What is a typical day for you in the workplace?
I honestly wouldn’t say that I have a typical day. I have learnt to just take every day as it comes. No typical days for me.
What are the costs that give you sleepless nights?
Sleepless nights are not what I would call it, but the employees’ salary is always top of my priorities every day of the month.
How do you deal with employee theft?
We hardly experience theft cases at Afro Siri nowadays. When we were starting off, we had some cases but not anymore. But if it happens, we have a no-tolerance policy in place: you steal, you go! The employees know it.
How do you juggle music, business, motherhood and being a wife?
For me, family comes first. I can delegate duties at Afro Siri and the KEPSA foundation but I can never delegate parenting. For my music, I have a strong team that sees to it that I am at the right place when I should be. Something that helps me get through my days is an elaborate spreadsheet that I keep detailed with my day to day schedules.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
I have two main sources of motivation. One, the fact that I know I will be accountable to God for all the responsibilities he has granted me keeps me going. The other source of my motivation is my kids. Knowing that they look up to me and are bound to emulate me keeps me on my toes.
If you had to start from scratch, what would you do differently?
I would never have put my relationship with my God on hold.
Describe one of your biggest accomplishment. What lesson did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
Afro Siri is a childhood passion. I always dreamt of having a place where women would come for their beauty needs, where they would be treated like queens, feel comfortable and also a place that would be relatively affordable. Having the guts to follow that dream and birth Afro Siri is one of my greatest achievement to this day.
Describe one of your biggest failures. What lesson did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
Something I would say I failed in would be that we moved Afro Siri from one location to a different one at the beginning. That really did cost us and I learnt never to do things without proper planning.
Do you have a mentor to guide you through this entrepreneurship journey? Would you recommend that women get mentors?
Yeah, I consider Farouk a big mentor. Instead of looking at me like a competitor in the beauty and fashion world, he has held my hand and guided me through. I would recommend that women get mentors. They go a long way.
In summary what are the five tips you would give women who have just started their business or are looking to start a business?
- Do not do stuff for popularity. Do not give in to societal pressure.
- Remain true to your heart. Follow your passion.
- Always remember Rome was not built in one day. Success is gradual. Be patient and do not give up.
- Make sure you get a mentor to guide you.
- Create a structure to help you get guidance.
Now that you got saved, has this changed your entrepreneurial perspective?
I have always been saved. I only reignited my relationship with God. I now have a stronger desire to achieve than before. I also look at my team differently. I have even introduced morning prayers at Afro Siri.