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Mums In Business : Janet Mgendi
Introduce yourself and tell us a little about your business.
My name is Janet Mgendi Mruttu. I am an entrepreneur, a wife and mother. My business is designed to solve the problems of expectant mothers. We provide them a seamless shopping experience so they can remain trendy and elegant no matter what stage of their pregnancy.
How many kids do you have?
My husband and I have two girls – Kakea is 6 years old and Seki is 3.
What do you love most about being a parent in Kenya?
I feel the best part of being a parent in Kenya today is the access to more facilities and information that enhance our children’s lives- such as medical facilities, information to help us in child-rearing, and more options in leisure and education.
How many selfies do you take in a day or week?
I rarely take selfies. I’m not photogenic! I’m constantly taking photos of our kids though- whenever I sense a moment or just for the heck of it.
TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
1. When and why did you start your business?
I started Just 9 Maternity in 2009. Back then we only operated online. I always had a desire to see women who maintained their style even during pregnancy. I saw a few of my friends struggle to look and feel good about themselves during pregnancy and I went through the same when I was expecting our first child. I then decided to follow up on this particular idea and try make it work.
2. Please share the main gap your business is filling in the market and who your main customers are?
Just 9 aims to provide trendy and unique maternity and nursing outfits to women. Our main customers are middle class women who want to maintain their sense of style during pregnancy and while nursing.
3. Do you have any special services for pregnant women or new mothers?
We have worked with a couple of hospitals to offer antenatal and postnatal care to pregnant women at a reduced cost as well as to run informative group sessions for expectant women. Every so often, we offer maternity photo sessions to pregnant women, as well as mothers with newborns (up-to 6 month old infants). This period in a woman’s life is quite brief (even though it may not feel that way at that time!) and the memories from the photos are to be treasured. We also have plans to team up with lactation experts to teach mothers on how best to go about the nursing process.
4. The art of the start is often said to be very difficult – what was the hardest part about getting your business off the ground?
The hardest part of getting started was building people’s confidence in our product, seeing as we were a brand new and an online shop at that point. There are those who doubted we had the particular products we advertised and so on. Sourcing for appropriate products that suit our women was also quite tricky.
5. What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur in Kenya? And the most frustrating?
Most rewarding bit about being an entrepreneur in Kenya is that once people get to trust your brand, they will always be loyal to you. That’s why we still buy “kiwi” without batting an eyelid, centuries later. Additionally, several institutions have come up that are ready and willing to take your company to the next level. So as long as you meet the minimum criteria and maintain your vision, your company will go places. Most frustrating bit I feel is the bureaucracy in licensing your business as well as the punitive taxes!
6. Is this your first business idea you have tried, or have you tried others previously?
This is the first business I have ever tried.
7. What is the nicest thing a client has said about your business?
When a person compliments our selection and says she wishes we were around during her previous pregnancy as well, that makes us very proud. We’ve been commended for having outfits that are value for money- they work perfectly both during pregnancy and nursing.
8. Is there any advice you received along the way that you are glad you ignored?
I was advised to start selling shoes and other products that were not really intended for maternity or nursing women specifically. I’m glad I didn’t try going down that road as it would have totally derailed me from my goal.
9. What do you like most about MumsVillage and what would you change?
I love the fact that Mumsvillage provides a lot of important information to women, information that we at times struggle to find. The interviews you do are also very inspiring. I’m not certain whether this has been discussed yet, but I would love to read more about infertility cases, women who are going or went through such, say multiple loses, struggling to conceive etc. I feel that there’s a large number of women who go through this but it’s almost taboo to talk about it. It would be quite beneficial to have a forum of that sort to discuss this and to learn from each other’s experience.
10. Who made you most happy today?
Hands down, my family made me happiest today! As much as they can be quite a handful, our kids always know how to make my day-even without trying!