For the last 12 months, Lucy (not her real name) wakes up at 5 am and leaves her Thika home to the Nairobi CBD where she runs a boutique shop. She won’t be back home until 8 pm in the evening, just in time for dinner.
This is the routine that the mother of four follows every day, except on Sundays. The 35-year-old fits the profile of a normal Kenyan working hard to make ends meet.
While all this seems normal to an unsuspecting eye, there is something a little off about this boutique shop. Do you know the way terrorists run a business just to survey a neighborhood or how security agents have a candy shop for spying? That is it. This boutique shop has never made a profit for the last 12 months, but the owner swears that she will keep running it until retirement!
Unknown to all, Lucy started this shop because she was overwhelmed by the four kids who call her mum and live in her house. She was holding up well when the third born was born, but after some time things became unbearable. As a stay-at-home mother, the never-ending tasks of washing, cleaning, cooking, entertaining, teaching, and disciplining – on a repeat mode all day – meant that she had no life of her own. To make it worse, there was no accompanying payslip to console her tired body.
“It used to be hard with four kids in the house. I could hardly breathe. Then came CBC and my life became a living hell. I needed to find a way to get away from this chaos and started this shop. My life is now calm and peaceful.”
Loss Making Hustle
Lucy admits that the shop has never made a profit, but she is determined to follow it through to retirement.
“My shop has been making a loss of about KShs 5000 every month. This is a small cost I am willing to pay for my peace of mind. I get two customers a week and most of my time is spent chatting with nearby traders and doing funny things online. I do not regret it.”
Her close friends corroborated her story. “We asked her to consider doing the business online but she refused. That is when it hit us that she had a higher goal, and we are happy she is happy.”
The pressure is now on the househelp who is doing her best to hold the fort.