What happens when all that defines you is taken away? When you lose a business you have built for a decade?
Kinky and African hair salon owner Maureen Murunga has found herself in this predicament.
Speaking in an Engage Talk held in Nairobi, Ms Murunga explained the pains she has been going through after her salon closed down following the terrorist attack at 14Riverside Drive in January.
Ms Murunga’s salon, Amadiva, was popular with naturalistas, the natural hair movement and was a go to salon for many Kenyans as well as female celebrities like Elani. It was posh and elegant, located in the upmarket Nairobi and things were looking up for her.
Ms Murunga explains how recently, in an exclusive club network meeting someone asked her what she does and when she replied she was unemployed, the person was shocked.
“Immediately, you could see the blood rush from his face, and I bet you he was thinking, what has happened to this exclusive club. What happens when everything that defines you is stripped away, who are you when you lose how you see yourself, ” narrated Ms Murunga.
She explains how growing up and when in high school and university, she helped her mother bring clothes from London to Kenya, then later got a job at a bank.
“I worked in the bank for eight years and the bug of entrepreneurship was biting , I resigned and ended up creating Amadiva salon, we were doing stuff making women feel good, we then went into a very niche market, the natural hair, I was super proud,” she explains.
On the day of Dusit attack, Ms Murunga was woken up at 2.30 am by a thief trying to get to her house through the window, it was the popular Kilimani burglar Spider-man.
Tough Year for Business
Clearly that day did not start well and she would later go for a pitching meeting and receive a call that Dusit was under attack.
“I was going to an old client to pitch for business, 2018 had been a tough year for business, there had been two elections and people were not spending,” she narrates.
“I made it for my meeting at 2.30 pm sharp and thirty minutes into my pitch, I could see my phone flashing, it wasn’t one flash, not two, at some point in the meeting, I flipped the phone over, someone else in the meeting was on Twitter and in the middle of my presentation, they announced that there had been a terrorist attack at 14Riverside and this happened to be the location of my business, I realised that is why my phone has been ringing insistently, I went cold.”
She immediately left the meeting room, took her car and left Mombasa Road and in fourty minutes she was in Chiromo.
Same car for 8 years
She couldn’t get to Dusit and drove to ABC place, a drive that took her four hours due to the gridlock that was in Waiyaki Way.
“In this four hours I was thinking, thinking of a business that I had built from scratch, thinking about my 45 staff and the families they supported, and really feeling the pain, the car I was driving on that day was the car I left the bank with almost eight years ago, nothing in my life had changed, but I was always hopeful,” she explains.
“At ABC place, in that moment, I knew my life was changing and with it heavily the 45 lives that I supported were going to change, my narrative was going to change that day, so here I am three months later, for years, I have been defined by my business.”
Ms Murunga says she is drawing inspiration from her four year old daughter and understanding that failure is inevitable and that she now has a chance to redefine herself.