MY COVID STORY | Lilian Katule

My name is Lilian Katule. I am a professional Make-up Artist and Trainer. I run a business named LIKA HOUSE which is a Make-up and Nails Studio. We offer Training for Individuals and persons who want to venture into the Industry and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed. LIKA HOUSE was established in 2015 and are located at Hurlingham, Nairobi.

Before I set up my business, I was a freelance Make-up Artist for 4 years. Even though I am well diverse in this Industry, my area of specialization is Bridal Make-up. Come January 2020, I was more than ready to take my business to the next level and got a physical location and decided to Introduce Nails Services to my clients. This meant I had to employ someone who would handle the Nails department as I am still in the learning stages when it comes to that. I also had to train someone on Make-up so that when I am outside the studio, Make-up services can still be given with the same quality and end results I love. I was so proud that I had moved from working alone to working with 2 other individuals and there was still room for growth. LIKA HOUSE is well known for Bridal Make-up and we would have more than 1 booking in a weekend which meant I had to bring in help from professionals I have worked with before in such scenarios. There was growth and definitely the future for LIKA HOUSE was bright.

Then Covid-19 hit around Mid- March and I went into a panic mode. I still went to work for the next 2 weeks, but I could tell significantly how the clients affected us too. A day would pass without anyone walking through the door. My Make-up students most of them had to stop coming either because they had travelled or they just wanted to keep safe which is understandable. That’s when I made the decision to close LIKA HOUSE until all this was over not knowing how long it would take. The President announced the lock-down and I lost my house-help. She had to leave and I decided to let her go. This meant opening LIKA HOUSE wasn’t an option at the moment as I had a 2yr old to take care of. I remember getting into a turmoil for about 2 weeks. I had just opened up a physical location which I had really invested in. I was worried how long the virus would be around. I wondered if I wanted to go back to work where would I get a house help considering I get them from up-country. Then there was restriction of movement into and Out of Nairobi. That’s when I really questioned if my timing for opening my business was wrong. I opened up my business on 8th February, and on 16th March, I was home. This time, I was on my weakest point.

I woke up one Morning and decided to draft an email to my landlord and agent about changing our business terms. Hours later he organized for a conference call where we agreed I will be paying ¼ of the total. This came as a sign of relief and this moment was my awakening call. Later that day I started exercising. This is something I have never done in my life. That night, I slept like a log for the first time in a few weeks. I kept going the next day and the next until today. I have so far lost 8kgs and my mind is healthier and my body energetic. I had carried my make-up bag with me at home and I started doing Make-up Videos and taking pictures and uploading them on social Media. It brought me satisfaction and I still felt I was working and remaining relevant in the Industry.

I also got into Great Networking Women Groups both on Facebook and WhatsApp like WomenWork, Successful Self- Employment, Your Business, your Cash cow among others and I got inspired every day to be more positive. I took note of free Webinars and Life Coaching and enrolled. As we speak, I am in my 5th and final week of life coaching by Coach Agnes Osoro of Ignited Change Lane Ventures. I started listening to YouTube podcasts on business and motivational speakers on resilience and decided to build myself to be better equipped for what’s coming if I couldn’t work on building my business instead of complaining. Nabil Sabio Azadi said, “When fishermen cannot go to sea, they mend their nets”. It is exactly what I decided to do this period from April to now. Honestly, I have never had so much time to teach myself and look within myself and discover my fears and work on eliminating them. Work constantly on seeing the good in all the bad that I could come up with. Now that the movement restrictions were removed, I arranged how the house help will get here and I re-open my business on 1st August, 2020.

It will be tough, It will be slow but steady progress because I have the strength and more resilience now to keep working on my dreams and the future of LIKA HOUSE because, “Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”- Gever Tulley. Even through the hard times, I have come to understand that in business, you have to have the ability to re-invent yourself. A lot of businesses have gone digital or will go digital.

LIKA HOUSE needs to understand how that can be applied to us as well. Instead of having just physical Make-up training classes, we will set up online classes where even individuals outside Nairobi and Kenya even Africa can access our services. Plan for the unexpected. I cannot insist on this one enough. People have lost jobs and it is a very sad affair. Businesses whether small, medium or big needs to have a budget in place on how to handle such situations when they arise. As much as I’m sure many have learnt, it needs to be taken with much more seriousness to avoid repetitions of the same in future.

Really prioritizing the employees. People have lost jobs, gotten into depression due to this, lost their families. God forbid the stories we do not know of how many have committed suicide. Employers need to find ways how they can sustain their employees for not less than a year if the same was to repeat itself. These are people who worked for you and made money for your company in the sunshine days, they deserve to be taken care of during the rainy days. It is a lesson that has deeply wounded my heart and definitely one that I will never forget.

When all is said and done, life has to go on. We must move on. We can’t moan forever. We should not lose the vision of our future and what we want with it. As a matter of fact, it should be clearer and vivid. Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant. Lastly, remember God. He has seen me through situations that I thought I will never get out from. He remains to be Faithful. It is God who gives and, therefore, God can take away.

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