‘My name is Edith Odiawo and I am the Founder of Elixir Barbershop, Salon & Spa. The business has been operational for 7 years. We are located in Kilimani along Wood Avenue, Nairobi where we focus on hair and beauty for women, men and children from all races.

The Journey

I grew up in Kibra and life wasn’t easy especially with the death of my mum when I was only 10 years old. My dad was a casual laborer and had to play the role of provider and mum. When dad wasn’t around I had to play the role of a mum to my two younger siblings. I did not understand what growing up was all about, I felt embarrassed talking to my dad about girl stuff including menstruation. This ignited my passion for plaiting, because I knew it could buy me sanitary pads and I would also buy some clothing for my siblings to ensure we are all OK.

I can relate to skipping meals, going to school in torn uniform and shoes, having no school bag and carrying an Uchumi or Nakumatt polythene bag as my school bag. I had no text books and had to rely on others in school. Thankfully, I was a top performer in school for I knew education was the only way I could get my family out of that state.

After high school I worked as a cleaner at Metro cleaners majoring in the toilet section while still plaiting people after work. I would also walk for long distances with my wooden comb just in case I would find someone who would want her hair done.

Then God opened a door that would later lead me to where I am today. I got a job as a cleaner and shampoo girl at Concept Salon by my now great mentor Mrs. Luba Nyandega. She believed in me and created confidence in me to do anything I put my mind to. Then many clients would ask me if I ever dreamt of having my own place. This really struck me and that’s when I started saving for my dream and with God nothing is Impossible. I finally opened my own salon.

We started in a small room in and over time the growth was exponential. From one employee, we now have a team of 6 which made us move to a larger room. It has beautiful partitions and amazing interior designs and I am often amazed at how fast we have grown.

Importantly, I am proud that business has been able to create job opportunities for others. It is my greatest achievement to be able to share this opportunity with others. I am constantly pushing my team to up their skills and work as a team. I derive great joy from seeing our customers happy. It makes all the hard work worth it.


As an entrepreneur I have had low moments. One of my low moments was when I had to work with employees who were not passionate and it was a struggle to push them. Plus, at times the business was not being profitable. Setbacks have been many, and I had to overcome them through not being scared to hire and to fire. Getting the right team is important.  I finally managed to get the right team who supports my vision. In my life I never thought a young naïve girl raised in Kibra could be able to start and run a business for more than six years and still crave for more growth. It’s been an amazing journey.


The pandemic has made us learn many things that we were not doing in business or we were not doing correctly. One of my takeaways as a business owner is that you should be able to set aside an emergency fund for your business.

Secondly, I have come to realize that good relationships are key. As a business owner, do everything you can to maintain a good relationship with clients, employees and the landlord. For me, since the pandemic started for those were my greatest motivators.


For my business technology is key and I fully embrace it; from calling up our clients, booking appointments, sending birthday wishes or even sending offers. Even Google has been a great platform which has made it easy for us to be easily found. Social media is the other platform we use to create awareness. I would encourage women in Business to tap into the power of social media. When used correctly it can really build your business but when misused, it can tarnish the company’s name quickly.


In business, learning is continuous and nobody really stops learning. I have been learning many things by having great mentors, taking short courses and learning online especially YouTube. Honing our craft as business owner is indeed a continuous process in order to grow.

As I wind up, here are my 5 top tips that have worked for me since I started Elixir Barber shop & Spa.

  • Do not be afraid to hire or fire
  • Create a rapport with both the clients and the employees
  • Invest in a business you are passionate in.
  • Choose your clients wisely
  • Let your money chase you, not you chasing money

Click to check out and find out more about Elixir Barber Shop and Spa

This story has been sponsored by HerVenture in Celebration of World SME Day 2021. HerVenture is the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s mobile learning app. It provides women entrepreneurs of small and growing businesses with the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to successfully grow their enterprises.  (Download the app and stand a chance to win a Ksh. 10,000 Shopping Voucher . Go to the Supamamas Facebook Page to participate.

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