Friday, 15 December 2017

2017 Top 40 under 40 Woman-Nelly Tuikong

Today I shift the focus of this Top 40 Under 40 series to an entrepreneur. She was inspired to start her makeup line in 2009, while she was working as a critical care nurse in the US. She quit her job and moved back home to Kenya to drive her new cosmetics brand. And so, Pauline Cosmetics, the brand, was born.

Introducing to you Nelly Tuikong, 33-year old Founder and CEO of Pauline Cosmetics.

C: What do you consider as your greatest achievement to date?

N: I am incredibly proud of having developed and built Pauline Cosmetics brand into a household name in Kenya! It hasn’t just been about having an idea and talking about it, or simply starting, because there are many people who have started something. It’s been about weathering the storms while still holding on to the dream. Now my brand stands tall amongst international brands, competing neck to neck. I am very proud of that! My next goal is to build Pauline Cosmetics into a household name in Africa. I am not sure how I will do it yet, but I know I will die trying!

C: What has your career path been like as you have navigated through your chosen field leading up to your current role/position?

N: I have a life story that I think can make a great movie (Haha). I started out with zero prospects after high school. I quickly, but painfully realized that my parents could not afford to take me to university. All the while, I used to have this feeling that I was destined for more. Then, I received a miracle and a blessing that changed my life! I got a sponsorship to study in USA! I knew my life, would never be the same again! I got accepted into one of the Top Nursing schools in America at that time. I was one of the 100 applicants selected out of a whooping 3000 applicants.

While I was there, I was president of the University Student Council (student government) and became an Ambassador of the University. I was once selected to be on a board discussing the construction of a new student centre, and among the board members was the Dean of the University! So here I was, this simple village girl! I figured I had been handed a clean slate and I was going to live it fully, and I did just that!

It wasn’t all smooth, but I tried not to complain a lot! After graduation, it was quite hard to get a job as the US was going through a bad recession. People who had graduated ahead of me were still looking for jobs. I put out so many applications and ended up getting a job in Critical Care! I wasn’t prepared for that! After a while I decided to leave it all behind and move to Kenya to pursue this dream that had been eating at me since my last year in university… and now I run one of the most sought after makeup brands in Kenya!

C: What advice would you offer to young people on figuring out the balance between work, family life and social life?

N: I don’t believe there is such a thing as work-life balance! There is work-life integration! I am the kind of person who will go for Sunday brunch with my husband and then after we eat we both burst out our computers and get caught up with work! Work and social life are all interconnected! I think it’s mostly what you have to do when you are running a business. There is the notion that when you run a business you have more flexible time! It’s a lie! When you run a business you can never fully disconnect! But you find a way to integrate your work into your life. I am not perfect at it, there are things I am definitely terrible at, but I am working on being better.

C: What is your greatest piece of advice to the young upwardly mobile individual?

N: Your ambition has to match your action! You cannot say you want to be successful and you spend the entire weekend getting “turnt” or getting “lit”! We are an insta generation, but some things remain the same; focus, dedication and patience are the only way! If you work for 4 hours a day, you will get a ‘’4hr a day’’ type of result. If you work 12hrs a day you will get a 12hr a day result. It is law!

Secondly, employ patience! If you bust your ass for 1yr and don’t see results, DO NOT GIVE UP! That’s the other thing with our generation, we are chasing after other people’s highlights on social media! We want to be successful in 1, 2 or 3yrs! I am not even halfway there to where I am going! 

C: What is the greatest lesson/ nugget that you have picked up in life?

N: I have learnt that we cannot do it alone. We need people to give us a hand, to push us, to encourage us, to talk to, to partner with! More than ever, this year has taught me the power of partnerships, collaborations and co-creating! I am the most introverted person I know, but I fully understand that I cannot live in my cocoon! 

‘‘Success is within someone’s own well- being. It’s having a passion.’’ Adam Vanunu

As always, see you next week Tuesday. J


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