I am nostalgic in this blog and for a good reason, you see my dear customer we have completed 5 YEARS in business! I mean I can hardly settle because my heart is filled with so much gratitude and we couldn’t have done it without you. I have run businesses before that didn’t see the light of the day, marking 3 years seemed a far fetched dream and an elusive one but today I have a different story. I can confidently tell another dreamer, IT’S POSSIBLE.

I recall the humble beginnings, when this young shy mum would pack her goods and her child to the car and off to a flea market every weekend. Paying the kshs. 1000 market fee always felt such a stretch and I would be praying silently that at minimum we should recover the market fee. There were days when the only thing sold was a shampoo and I had to smile and remind my small army (Shani my daughter and Emmanuel who would join us ) that better days are ahead. I couldn’t afford to let them get disappointed. It was my default job to ensure these two are not only playing the part but they are in for the long haul. I needed Shani with me because that child was a charmer, a simple smile and we would get just the right attention and I would get a chance to engage the market visitors. She innocently helped me sell and enjoyed working with me at the market. Emmanuel my co-founder was from another crop of the ‘blue-collar’ guys and didn’t have much experience with this ‘hawking’ business I was introducing him to, but I needed him in my army. Passion drove what I was doing and if that meant learning how to sell from the streets of Nairobi then I was more than ready to do so.

Mkamboi Mwakale (the author) and Shani at a flea market.

It is in these market streets that a lady by the name of Faith , had the opportunity to see Saru products and went on to try them. The following weekend she not only had a beautiful review about the product but she believed she could convince her boss who owned beauty shops in major shopping malls to stock our products. Wait, hold up! Things were moving a bit fast. Did she just mention to me beauty shop in its plural form? We had not even thought about getting to shops. I was at the very early stages of piloting the product and here God send Faith my way who would be the connection of our products getting listed in one of the sterling beauty shop chains ,Earthnique. I thought my prayer ought to change from ‘ Lord help us make sales today’ to ‘Lord send more destiny helpers my way!’ I mean one encounter had me and my co-founder Emmanuel change our entire business strategy and get ready to not only look the part but play the part as well! Our products were going to be displayed proudly at Sarit Centre, Garden City, Adlife Plaza and Buffalo mall Naivasha where the beauty brand shop had set up. Did God need to send me any more bigger sign than this that I was in the right track? I was ecstatic and I couldn’t wait to get into this new level God was ushering us into.

At Earthnique shops we were quickly introduced to modern trade. Faith and her incredible team taught us how to do sales and activations at the malls. We printed t-shirts with our logo, requested a few college youngsters to join me at the mall and help with the activation. I was incredibly happy each time we engaged a passing customer and letting them know about the brand I was so proud of! I cried the first time we received a cheque from Earthnique showing how much we had sold in two months! To understand why I would cry over our first cheque its because suddenly I felt my work was giving value and meaning to my life. Just few months before I had lost a great job, which was the first job that I had fallen in love with and had taken so long to come by after grappling with joblessness. Things got worse after becoming a parent and I knew I needed to do something for the sake of my baby. I watched painfully as my child was accustomed to asking her grannies for anything she required to be bought, but would never direct the same question to me ,her mum. My child had learned so quickly that her mum, didn’t have much money if any at all. So this cheque was not only an affirmation for what customers thought of Saru Organics but it opened new doors for me as a parent. I could take my baby out after church, just the two of us and enjoy a packet of French fries and see my child’s face bubble in pure joy.

At Garden city mall activation with one of my early adopters customers.

The transformation from just doing flea markets to getting on the shelves of the Earthnique brand was pegged on Faith coming back with a positive review and sharing with her team. A product review on our then Shampoo had seen the brand name making positive connections with potential customers on the web. There were positive reviews about this new brand with a Clay shampoo and a beautiful name to it too! Soon the overpouring love from our early adopters led to the famous hashtag #sarulove. This # Sarulove hashtag was not just a coincidence, it crowned everything this brand had been since inception. It was love for Moringa oil and its amazing beauty properties that led my curiosity to finding out more. It was love for our subsistence farmers to benefit economically that found me convincing my mum, uncle and Emmanuel to support my dream. It was love to see African crowns in all its glory that made this brand curve a niche in the Kenyan market.

At our very first 3 roomed workshop with the E4IMPACT FOUNDATION team that supported us with grants for purchasing machinery.

Today as we look into the future and strategize on how we are going to be on those top tier modern trade retail chains, we know we have you to thank and for support. I love what we have been able to create, an incredible team that is committed to serve you and has bought into the vision. A good footprint of beauty shops spanning across Kenya and Uganda and allow me to say a big thank you to all our incredible partners and suppliers. Each beauty shop that has graciously partnered with us has been an answered prayer and we remain indebted to you for the fruitful relationship. An amazing partnership with the Hami Imani Africa foundation that part of our sales proceeds helps us to reach to the marginalized school girl without proper sanitary towels a cause very dear to my heart. As we get into marking this 5th year anniversary where we have plenty of niceties in store for you, we request for a special anniversary gift that you may not only mention our brand name in a store full of opportunities but also take few seconds to give our brand a google review here! Google business review is one of the proven ways for an upcoming brand to increase awareness and give another potential customer the confidence to try our product offerings. Here is the link to share your genuine feedback,

The founding team Mkamboi & Emmanuel.

Happy 5th Anniversary dear Saru Family! Looking forward to seeing you at the nearest retail chain!


Mkamboi Mwakale.

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