Aruba is Julie’s fourth attempt at starting a business, and with this, she has succeeded in balancing family and entrepreneurship.
1. Who is Julie Okonda
Thank you for your questions. I am very grateful for the opportunity to share a special part of my life with your readers. I am a 31 years old married to a wonderful man and blessed with 4 Children. I am a stay at home Mum and I am a beauty therapist by qualification.
2. Tell us about your business
It’s important to know that creating Aruba Gel was my fourth attempt at a Start up business. I have taken all the lessons along the way and created a product, for a woman, that I feel is much needed in the Kenyan market right now. Aruba Vaginal Gel is a formula that I developed with the help of a Lab technician. It naturally sorts out common vaginal issues like itch, odour, discharge, inflammation and dryness.
Currently, I sell the gel at wholesale level and retail level. We are in the preliminary stages but have so far sold over 500 units in these 5 months we have been in business. I chose to work with Getrude Mungai who is well known lifestyle designer on sex and relationships. She fell in love with the product and is our brand ambassador (She is running a Christmas sale for Aruba on her social media pages or Visit Tetezzo Shop Nairobi CBD 0722900523).
3. Generally, how is your work week like?
Because I am a stay at home Mum, who is completing an undergrad at the same time, I have to be very disciplined with time. I prioritize the Children and the Husband but when I am not attending to them I use my time to find new markets and advertise on social media and do the back end stuff needed to keep the business afloat.
Running a start up is challenging because one is constantly working on ideas which need capital that’s not always there. Furthermore, a lot of the work rests squarely on your efforts but I must say I have a great support team including Getrude, my assistant Ruth and my parents who are also part owners.
4. And how do you spend your weekends
I do housework and look after my family. I also love to host friends and family. I have come to enjoy cooking and my chapati’s are the talk of the town. On Sundays when we manage to leave for Church, we take the older kids to Sunday school and My Husband and I and the younger ones enjoy the service. I attribute my life and all I have accomplished and yet to accomplish on my walk with God. It’s the centre and core of my life.
5. How did you raise funds to start Aruba Cosmetics?
All up the startup costs have added up to about 10,000 dollars and I have spent this over a three year period because that is when product research and development started. A majority of it came from my immediate family. I have not had an outside investor up to this point. I am grateful to all my family for supporting my dream.
6. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I would say that being a mother is what is my biggest identity and pride. It was because of my second pregnancy that I begun my journey into creating Aruba Vaginal Gel. I had the worst thrush in my second trimester and nothing, not even the creams from the pharmacy could help alleviate the discomfort. I found a herb that worked for me after going online and trying to find a home remedy, and that is how Aruba was born. The rest as they say is history.
Also just recently having the product retailing in Southern Africa is a big confidence booster for me.
7. What do you now know that you wished you knew before you started Aruba?
This is a question I have never thought of. But I will say that I wished I asked more questions and educated myself by reading books from business owners etc. Running a business is very technical; it’s not just about sales. There are terms and definitions and procedures that to a newbie can be daunting. However, I believe if you are not born with the business acumen, if you put in a lot of hard work to learn you will end up on top
8. Parting Shot for young Kenyan women reading this?
Two things, I created the product with the Kenyan woman in mind. I respect femininity because it’s powerful yet delicate, a beautiful balance .My mission is to facilitate women to be confident and celebrate their strengths. If Aruba can make life as a woman more bearable then we have fulfilled our calling. Aruba is a high quality, Ph balanced, tested and approved Natural product.