Be Inspired: Kenyan Cosmetics Entrepreneur Discusses Her ‘Frustrating, But Incredible’ Journey

04 Dec, 2017

“I’m proud of having built a local cosmetics brand that is competing neck and neck with international companies in the market. Right now I can walk into a beauty shop and my stand is right next to the giants, such as Revlon and Maybelline. It is so incredible.”

So says Nelly Tuikong, founder and executive director of Kenya-based beauty line Pauline Cosmetics. The company, named after Tuikong’s mother, manufactures a range of products – including lipstick, eye shadow and make-up brushes – that retail throughout Kenya, and is also slowly gaining traction in Uganda and Rwanda.

Looking back on her journey so far, Tuikong, now in her early 30s, says she had to learn everything about being a businessperson from scratch. “Entrepreneurship is like having a child for the first time. You have all these people and books telling you what to do, but when that baby shows up you have no clue what to do.

“That said, in a way I’m glad I didn’t start out with a set of assumptions, and that I figured it out as I went along. Many people have been burnt by having a bunch of assumptions on how business in Africa works, only to see their ventures collapse. Whatever you read in international case studies or business books doesn’t necessarily apply to rural Kenya,” she explained.

“Business is sweet and sour. It is the most frustrating thing that you will ever do in your life. I really control my emotions a lot because that is how I was raised. So when my husband sees me crying, he knows things are really bad. And sometimes I need to do that – I need to cry, binge on some TV shows, eat a whole tub of ice cream for a day, and pull myself up the next. It is very frustrating, but it is also one of the most incredible journeys you will ever take.” 

Read Nelly’s full story here

Original story appeared on

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