- Mugethi graduated from Moi University in 2004 with a major in Information Technology. She relocated to Mombasa soon after graduated.
- I was worried about cutting it (my hair) because I didn’t know how I’d look with short hair. Plus there was pressure from society to appear serious and professional.
- By the time Mugethi was quitting her job in 2016, she was had good grasp of what shea butter can do for different types of natural hair, when mixed to the right ratios with oils.
- I sell mostly through social media and at the K1 flea market every Sunday.
“As a little girl, I didn’t have the opportunity to keep my natural African hair,” says Mugethi Gitau. “When I was going to boarding school in form one, my mum put for me a straight kit because she said it would be easier hair to maintain. I relaxed it when I was joining campus. It stayed that way until I cut it and went natural in late 2011.”
Mugethi is 35 and is a single mum of a seven-year-old boy. She founded a business in October 2016 that makes products for natural hair care – she makes the products herself, in her kitchen at home. Her brand is Mugzie’s Naturals.
Mugethi grew up in Naivasha town. She’s the first in a family of four kids. Her father was a civil servant who bought her many storybooks and encouraged her to read for the simple joy of it. Her mother was a kindergarten teacher who owned and managed a school. From her mother, Mugethi learned the mechanics of running a business and the subtle art of DIY (do-it-yourself). I met Mugethi at her home off Ngong Road and she crocheted as we spoke. She told me she was making herself a demure cardigan.
Mugethi graduated from Moi University in 2004 with a major in Information Technology. She relocated to Mombasa soon after graduated. She was a college lecturer for five years and ran a string of side-hustles while at it: she ran a business centre, a simu ya jamii, a bar and restaurant, made wedding card invites. “Running these side-hustles made me happy,” she says.
RESILIENT, VERSATILE AND A DIVERSE SET OF TALENTS
Mugethi returned to Nairobi in 2009 and worked as an assistant on a government-funded research project. She had her son then took a six-month break. She returned to stints with a microfinance then a donor-funded trust. On the side, she brokered land. “I finally got into tech in 2013,” she says. “I worked with the iHub and with a coding school. My last job was as an assistant director with a tech start-up. The title was just fancy,” she chuckles, “because I was doing everything and anything – admin, finance, HR. I knew it was time to quit when I became stressed and I couldn’t do my job anymore. I actually started seeing a psychologist every Tuesday morning.” Mugethi sighs as she crochets.
I ask her what she learned about herself from her colourful career. “That I’m resilient, versatile and have a diverse set of talents,” she says.