Wachinga Kabaiku Anami is the founder and CEO of THAMAR, a home-grown nail polish line. Thamar is the reverse of Martha, Wachinga’s first name.
Thamar comes in over 42 colour shades with unique local names such as Watamu Tamu, Nairoberry, Mombasa Raha or Mara green.
The 29-year-old entrepreneur holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Management and quit formal employment to launch Thamar in 2018.
How did you start making nail polish?
I started by looking at what is in the market and what’s lacking. So, by that, I realized there are certain colours that we don’t have in the market and we would really like them to be in the market.
So I started by finding out how these colours are done I also had to go out of the country and see how other people are doing it what processes they have when making nail polish and it was a real learning experience which I’m still learning because even with the current market trends and new products being produced when it comes to the cost of production
What is the cost of production for making nail polish?
The cost of producing nail polish can go up to Sh300,000. The process is done every 30 days after which we take a break for a while and start again.
From research and development ad by research and development, it means you sit down and go through what other people are doing and see their strengths and weaknesses and you see how to implement it locally, getting your product tested by the correct authority bodies and see how the product is behaving.
Once we had the final product we had to put it out and see how it behaves after a certain time and how it behaves under different weather conditions. We took about six years before making a final perfect product and putting the nail polish out to the public.
I’m still educating people about the brand teaching them about how good the brand is and also making it readily available locally. So what goes into making nail polish?
A lot goes into making nail polish. We start by sourcing the best material to use when making the polish. Another key thing is the packaging.
The packaging that is used for regular nail polish and the one used for Gel polish is different so we have to factor in all these things. The longevity of the product is also key in this industry because ladies don’t like polish that wears off after a few days or after a week.
How long does it take to make the nail polish?
This is dependent on supply and demand. Sometimes we take two weeks and sometimes we take up to a month.
How long we take also depends on the number of bottles we have to make. We have the capacity to make 1000 bottles a day but all this is dependent on supply and demand.
What was your starting capital?
My starting capital was six million shillings. Which I invested in buying the boilers and shipping them, getting the location, sourcing for the raw materials and the colors. Basically, setting up the whole plant and the business.
What lessons have you learnt running your own business?
There have been lessons along the way but I am still learning. I have learnt that the market can be very uncertain. This is a lesson I was taught by the pandemic in 2020.
You always have to keep us with what the market wants because at the end of the day, the customer will look at what they specifically need and if you are not providing a solution to their problem then you will be out of business.