By JOAN THATIAH
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Daisy stumbled on her passion when she was busy battling her little girl’s childhood asthma eight years ago. At the time, she worked as a flight attendant for a local airline. Her busy schedule had only allowed her to exclusively breastfeed her firstborn for two months. “As a result, she had a weak chest. By the time she was two years old, the asthma was so bad that she was using two different types of inhalers,” Daisy recalls.
It was during this time that Daisy met a multilevel marketer of healthy living products on a flight to Nigeria. “The minute he started mentioning the health benefits that these supplements could have, I was hooked,” she says.
After this chance meeting, Daisy decided to try his suggestion as a last resort. She signed up in the multi-level marketing company so that she could buy as much product for her daughter as she could. True to the gentleman’s word, her daughter started getting better. As the weeks passed by, she wore less layers of clothing.
“Inspired, I decided to overhaul the family menu to include more healthy foods, fruits and vegetables. By the time she turned three years old, my daughter was completely free of her inhalers and the asthma attacks,” she says. Daisy became so passionate about healthy living that she started talking about it to mothers on her flights. Every time she got positive feedback, her passion grew.
In general, life was good. In fact, the Bachelor of Commerce graduate from Kenyatta University prides herself in being one of the few people who actually get to live their dream: Flying around the world had been hers.
While her schedule became a little harder to get around once she got married and had her daughter, her husband was very supportive. Every time she felt unhappy, she would look at the other side of it – the financial freedom that her job afforded her.
However, all hell broke loose one morning in September 2012. It started as a normal workday for her. She had just come home from a flight from Amsterdam when she was slapped with a retrenchment letter. “There was no notice. It was like a bad dream,” she recalls.
She went home that day and then woke up the next morning in a panic. She called all those people she had been talking to about healthy living and offered to sell them omega-3 supplements. The response was good, but the money she made wasn’t nearly a fraction of the salary she had been earning. Still, she was glad to have something to fall back on, something to keep her mind and time occupied. Soon, she had graduated from just selling the supplements to giving health talks. She taught herself all that she could on the subject and started reaching out to schools and churches.
“The money still wasn’t enough. I needed to do something bigger so I started wracking my mind for ideas. I remembered that during my flying days, I had seen people abroad eating warm food from what appeared like bowls. A little research showed that there were electric lunch boxes out there but not here,” she says.
Daisy’s idea was a perfect fit for a lot of people she had spoken to, who told her they resorted to junk food because there was no way for them to warm food at their workplace. A food warmer would allow them to carry homemade food to work. The only problem was that she didn’t have any capital. The retrenched airline workers had taken up a court case against the airline meaning that her severance package was stuck.
“I made the hard decision of pulling out of the case and accepting the smaller amount that the airline offered me. I used Sh300,000 to import the first batch of electric lunchboxes,” she says.
She also started aggressive online campaigns to grow her business. She expanded her health talks to include corporates. Three years in, Daisy has grown her business beyond the Kenyan borders. Last year, she opened an office in Kampala, Uganda.
In addition to earning her a livelihood, her dream has been to make a positive impact on millions of people in regard to healthy eating. To achieve this, she has been working on making cassava-based products which she is set to launch in the first quarter of this year,
Cassava, she explains, is more nutritious than most carbohydrates and getting people to add it to their diets will stop overreliance on maize.
In retrospect, healthy living turned out to be a great life choice for her. Her secondborn hasn’t had any health problems and she is finally making more money than she did flying around the world.
- Have a dream. It all starts with a dream.
- Start small. If you don’t have a phone to call, use your mouth.
- Take care of even the smallest customer; he could hold the key to a million others.
- Attend networking events and when you do, stay visible. Talk about your business.