Gbonsy’s Corner is 2!

I started this blog when I realised I needed some sort of journal. I was going through a lot, I was far from home, I was bored, had barely anyone to talk to. For the last 6 months or so, I haven’t posted anything. Mostly because I have been super busy with work.

When i started doing Makeup professionally, I thought I would only work Saturdays, that is why I focused mostly on bridal makeup. I really didn’t factor in the pre-wedding consultations, trial runs, pre-wedding photoshoot makeup, e.t.c. And now it feels like a full time job.

Thankfully, both kids are now in school, and I have a better understanding of which months are the busiest, and I can better plan my schedule. I’m hoping this too will give me time to blog here more.

I have another blog, but it’s mostly work related posts. If you’re interested in Makeup, photography, and that sort of thing, you can check out the blog here.

I want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has ever taken time to read my rants post, comment, and support this blog in anyway.

God Bless!

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Gbonsy’s Corner is 2!

Lesson Learnt.

These days, i question myself on the decision i made not to have a maid. Taking care of two kids under 3 is running me ragged! I used to pride myself on the fact that i was using house chores to keep the weight off, but i’ve had to add 5kg, intentionally. My mother wore me down with the probing ‘are you okay?’ questions, i’ve never been that skinny (if you can call a UK size 10 skinny!), so she was worried. Adding weight was as easy as pie (pun intended), i just started snacking again, ice cream and sodas are back on the menu too. Lord.
Work has been fun, I’ve started travelling to some neighbouring towns (Limuru, Naivasha). I usually leave at say 5a.m., and I’m back home at 4p.m. at the latest, other than slight waist pain from the trip to and fro and the constant bending over, it usually is fun.
I had a really weird encounter this past sunday. I had a customer who’d been calling that she wanted her makeup done early sunday morning. I got up early and prepared for church, the plan was for her to come by before the kids woke up. She came by, i got her all glammed up, and it was time for her to pay, she asked if i take mpesa, i gave her my number and i notices she was typing it into her phone as a message, before i could gather my thoughts to frame what i thought was a ridiculous question, she tells me ‘i’ll pay you on thursday‘!. WHAT?!
I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or smack her. Finally, when i found my voice, I gave her a lecture in my stern pissed mummy voice. I was so annoyed! Kai! Is makeup something you get done on credit? who does that?. She got off easy because it was a sunday, and i’d already dressed up for church, so i did the christian thing. Else, it would have gotten really messy. Lesson learnt: i will ALWAYS now ask for payment upfront. My husband kept chuckling for most of the day, I’m only just now seeing the funny side of that encounter, but some other girl had better not try that stunt ever again.
I’m off to continue the lovely week
Take care.

Lesson Learnt.

Load off My Chest

      Usually you have to maintain a level of composure when dealing with customers. There really is no place in business for anger or volatile temperaments. I remember when i started at my last job, which was in customer relationship, one of the Managers told us during orientation that when a customer tells you, ‘i could kill you right now‘, ‘i hate you’, ‘you’re mad’, he actually means the company is mad, and ‘who is the company?’, he asked us, nobody answered. The buildings, the logo, the services provided, that’s the company, not you, he said. A load of crap, i know. But those words really helped me calm down many irate customers, and usually, at the end of what started out pretty rough, i’d get an apology, and some praise like ‘why didn’t the foolish boy that attended to me the last time tell me’, or ‘why aren’t your other colleagues like you?’, or ‘will you marry me?’. lol. Marriage proposals did happen, a little too frequently for my taste, and i always had to fight the urge to laugh.

       Now, i work for myself, ain’t no building, service provider, or minion i can deflect the unpleasantness to no mo! Since i work mostly with women, it’s been a bit surprising that i haven’t had that many nasty experiences, because most people seem to think that women are a walking mass of emotions and feelings. The singular most annoying assumption i’ve encountered is that many people, both men and women, seem to think i’m uneducated because i’m a makeup artist. Not saying a lack of education is a bad thing, as life itself is the most important teacher, but i put in the time dammit! I know how totally unrelated an M.Sc in industrial microbiology is to makeup, but like i said, when life schools you, you better learn!

        I recently had the most awful experience, I’m still reeling from it. From the first contact with this customer, it was difficult, but i was confident i could handle it, that confidence cost me a lot. Unfortunately, i’m not one of the tomorrow people, i cannot turn back the hands of time, what i can do is learn from this, effect changes, and move forward. Not all money is good money. 

        It’s been very interesting, growing this business, my support system i.e. Le Boo, has be so firm. God in his infinite mercies has been so amazingly kind, blowing my mind every step of the way. Something happened to me recently that was so awesome, and before i could even digest it, or bask in it, it got torn away. As fleeting as it was, it showed me the great plans God has for me, and i know this setback is temporary, BIG THINGS are coming. It made me realise that the devil is going to want to try things, but he’s always going to fail. As usual.

       What’s the purpose of my cryptic ramblings, you might wonder? There isn’t really one, i just had to get some of this load off my chest. Right now, i’m beyond upset, or i was. This little post made me feel better.

Load off My Chest

New Year Resolution!

      Happy New year!!! Last year started on a pretty sour note for me, i’d just had a baby, but i was so stressed. I delivered him on the 26th of December 2012 a few days short of his due date. There were some pretty scary complications, he was on respiratory support for some days, after that was a bout of Jaundice, in short, it was touch and go for a while, but God showed us mercy. Yesterday made it exactly one year my son returned home from the hospital. He was discharged on the day of his naming ceremony (7 days after birth), his name means God is with me, truly apt! 

       Anybody who’s been through a traumatic experience knows its very hard to move on from it in one day, the vulnerability that results from these experiences exposes you to so much emotionally. You find all your fears and doubts magnified, i’ve never been able to truly talk about it to anyone but my husband, the funny thing is, i actually started blogging to vent about the experience and release some of the stress, but i never could write about it, so i got a journal, wrote in it, and moved on.

        The intervals between my posts are getting longer, not because i’m out of material, but because of some of the feedback or pattern i see resulting from my posts. Contrary to popular belief, i don’t blog to be boastful, i don’t blog about EVERYTHING that happens in my home or work, some things, as hilarious or interesting as they are, i can’t talk about because they’re simply not my story to tell. I don’t blog about many struggles and disappointments i’ve gone through and experienced, because struggles are a part of life, everybody goes through them. The victory and satisfaction of being able to overcome them gives life flavour, and builds or breaks down character. 

      I’ve seen an increase wanting one thing or the other, some even make demands outrageously. I wonder where this feeling of entitlement is coming from? When i’m in need, those i can ask help from, can be counted on one hand, yet those demanding seem to be uncountable. The demands aren’t all monetary of course, some want to make emotional demands, i suddenly have many ‘besties’. you want me to take time out to listen to your problems and what not, yet you’ve never once honestly asked ‘how are you?’. Thanks to my parents (my mom on the large part), i always had what i needed growing up, as for what i wanted, i was taught to save for them, and i carry those lessons till this day. Things got even harder when my dad passed on. I’d gotten admission to study for my masters degree, and at the family meeting, it was decided i should either get a job to pay my way through, or get married so my husband would pay for it. My mom out of pride and determination foot my bills. I overcame. I finished school, got a job in Lagos, and i had no where to live, it was a childhood friend of mine who helped me. I lived in her parents home for almost 7 months, yet i ‘know’ hundreds of people who live in Lagos.

      And there are those who will try to belittle your progress. ‘Wetin una go find for kenya?’ ‘with those al shabaab terrorists when full there?’ ‘so na housewife you come be now?’ ‘so, what was the point of going back to school?’ ‘na makeup you come dey do now? ok o!’. I pay them no mind. Because whatever questions you’re asking now, be sure i asked myself those questions too, and i decided what was best for ME. Now things are looking up, i’m suddenly ‘lucky’, what’s luck got to do with it? its GRACE!

       The end of 2013 was amazing for Sunshine’s Beautiful Brides, i even had to turn customers away. My sister told me yesterday that she’s sure i must be saving every cent for something better, she knows me too well! 2014, my year of Exceeding Grace!

         My new year resolution? Is to ALWAYS be thankful to God. Always. Because like my mother always says, while you’re aspiring for something better, someone is aspiring to be you!

New Year Resolution!

Devious Maid

      Last time i blogged about my maid, she’d just started, and so far she was amazing. She had some flaws, but then who doesn’t? Her work was great, there’s not to much to do at our place, because its semi mechanized. When we first got married, we had a kinda pact thingy that we wouldn’t have a maid. One reason was because we both find it kinda creepy having a stranger traipsing through our house. Truthfully, not having a helper is kinda unrealistic, as we were soon to find out.

      My husband had to move to Kenya when our baby was a little over 3 months old. My maternity leave had ended, luckily my sister was available to help, till she went back to school. My mom lent me the lady who works for her till i was ready to move to Kenya. Due to some delays, I couldn’t travel as early as i’d thought, and my mother in law had to come help with the baby. By now it had dawned on me that a help was in the picture somewhere down the line. I honestly couldn’t assume that people were just going to press pause in their lives, and jump to help because i’d decided to replenish the earth. When baby number two arrived, the work tripled. Its impossible to sync a newborn’s timetable to yours, its the other way around. Yep, they totally own you! Add a toddler to the mix, and you have a mini riot. I say that lovingly.

       So after my mother in law came to visit and left, it was pretty hard adjusting. I slept, but i never rested. There was just too much to do. After some deliberating, we decided to get a maid. She was good with work, great with the kids. And initially she wasn’t much of a talker, which was great as i’m not much of a chatterbox myself. Her being around allowed me to focus on starting my business, i decided to get to know her a little before renting a space for work. All was well, except she was always asking for money.  She resumed at 9am and left at 5pm, monday to friday. We paid her well, way higher than most maids are paid here in Nairobi, and the first month, though she started 10 days into the month, we gave her transport allowance, and still gave her her salary in full. Yet, she’d always ask for 1k here, 2k there. It was inconveniencing for me, because sometimes, that’s all the spare cash i’d have, but i kept giving her. Month end, my husband would say, let’s just bless her with it, and we’d pay her in full. She never once seemed particularly grateful of impressed by the extra money. I wondered about that, but i never talked to her about it.

        In June, we traveled to Nigeria for 3 weeks, and gave her the 3 weeks off too, with pay. The first week in july, she said her husband just got a job in kisumu, and needed two thousand shillings for transportation, i gave her. Few days later, she said he was back, as the job required someone with computer skills. i wondered how he’d ‘gotten’ the job in the first place if he wasn’t qualified, but i let it slide. Couple of weeks later, it was a friday, i came out of the room, and i saw the backlight of my phone on. I expected to see a new email or sms, none. no missed call either. I had a strange feeling, and so i put a password on both my phones. Minutes after she left my place, i got  call from my husband, he wanted to know how my nanny/maid got his number. i was confused. He later forwarded the messages she’d sent him. Summary of it was, she wanted him to give her money, and please she didn’t want him to tell me, so i wouldn’t be angry. He replied her to tell her, as she worked for me, and should ask me for any thing she wanted, and warned her to never go behind me to him. *insert evil laugh* . 

         To say i was angry, is to put it very mildly. The fact that she had the effrontery to go through my phone was thoroughly unsettling. She was a very bold one. And i felt totally violated. I cannot stand people who do not have or respect boundaries. Here’s a woman who has two children, the first who’s 8 years old. I just wonder the values she’s impacting in them. How i managed to wait till monday, i still don’t know. I wanted to see the look in her eyes as i questioned her. When i questioned her, guess who was to blame? the devil of course! He made her do it. She hadn’t even finished her probation period, yet she felt so indispensable. It wasn’t yet month end, but i fired her on the spot, month end, i sent her salary via mpesa to her.

         I wish i could say it ended there. 

         Some weeks ago, she sent me an sms, she saying her her husband has left her, and she desperately needs a job. I helped her advertise on facebook, and some ladies were interested, i gave her number to them, she was called for some interviews. She gave me feedback, that most were offering between seven and eight thousand shillings only per month, and it was too little. A few days after, i got a message from one of the ladies who’d interviewed her, she’d liked her, and had told her to resume the next day. And Ruth (my former nanny/maid), told her she didn’t have transport money, and like we’d done when she first started with us, the lady gave her money upfront, And that was the last she saw of her. I was thoroughly embarrassed, i apologized and offered to pay back the money, but she refused, saying she just wanted to give me a heads up. I quickly went and pulled down the posts i’d made advertising for placement for her, then i called her to inform her i still had photocopies of her documents, and should she try any criminal behaviour, i wouldn’t hesitate to assist the authorities to track her down.

        Maybe she thought she’d be allowed to come work for me after she gave me that sob story. Like my father would say ” na here dem bury her placenta?’. Good question!

Devious Maid

Teething Problems

     *reblog from my other blog*

   We all go into business to make money. Even though some people are lucky to be doing what they love, and others are managing what they do, ultimately we all want the money. When starting out, most business owners go through the ‘teething’ period, we try out different business models to see which one best works for us. The most constant and most volatile variable in whatever model you choose, is the customer. So far, I’ve encountered plenty interesting characters, made even more interesting by the fact that 98% are female. 

        I’m sure you’re wondering about the other 2%? Well, they’re mischievous guys who’ve gotten my contact details from my Facebook page and decided to try their luck. One even called at past 9pm one night and wanted to come by to ‘see’ my available stock. Indeed. Thank God I have a background in customer service, i’d have given him my special stock of choice words. ode! A very few of them though, stumble across my page, and then connect me to the potential brides. Mercifully, the Truecaller app allows for call blocking. WhatsApp too allows us block unwanted chat buddies. 

         As much as the teething period  is stressful, its eyeopening too, and its important to know it doesn’t last forever. Its a necessary part of development, and it allows us to grow; more confident, more experienced. Speaking of teething, my 10 months old son has 7 teeth! Every time a new tooth erupts, i’m amazed, mostly because his sister got her first tooth at 10 months! This makes it obvious how uniquely different we all are from each other.

        I’m getting more and more out of Nairobi requests for makeup services, which I’ve had to turn down, mostly because my baby is too young to leave behind, and travelling with him would be too stressful. Maybe when he’s older, I’ll be able to see more of Kenya as I work.

        A big thank you to all my customers! I loved being a part of your special day! Marital bliss is what i wish you. And lots of babies! 😉

 

Teething Problems

Good bye September!

 September was pretty gloomy at my end. The disappointments just kept piling up. I’m being slammed some pretty ridiculous charges whenever i receive goods from overseas. Its pretty disillusioning. Firstly, I receive underskirts for wedding dresses (petticoats), and i’m charged more than twice the price just for custom clearing, and mind you, i give them as a bonus with the wedding dresses at no extra cost, so i’m making losses. Secondly, i bought make-up worth $190 from www.bhcosmetics.com, and as i write this, the post office is charging me 17k+ kshs to get the items. I was speechless! How they arrived at that sum, is beyond me.

           All this happened the weeks before the bombing. After having had a stressful week, i was looking forward to the weekend, even if we weren’t planning any outings (except for church), i was looking forward to resting, and the release of BBM for android. As we were to later discover, very few people would do any resting that fateful saturday. I received a broadcast message at 1:35pm on whatsapp from one of my customers ‘Heavy shooting inside westgate, keep away. Confirmed report, not rumours’. It seemed like someone’s idea of a bad joke, till we put on the TV. Firstly, we were informed that it was an ongoing robbery. But after an hour, i began to doubt the reports. My father (who retired as C.P. in the Nigerian police) always told us that no armed robber would want to spend too long during an operation, thieves are always in a hurry. And why would anyone want to rob on the busiest day of the week, in a jam packed mall, in broad daylight? Seemed pretty stupid, or suicidal.

          We watched in horror as the truth began to unfold. It was a terror attack. We watched as people were brought out, some some dead, some badly injured, others thoroughly shaken. I can’t even begin to understand what the people who were at the mall that Saturday must have gone through. I was at home, yet i was shaking like a leaf. It could have been anybody. Hardly a month goes by that we don’t visit the westgate mall at least twice. To print pictures, to complain at the airtel shop, to shop for household items, for sunday Lunch at Nakumatt Ukay, which is just opposite Nakumatt westgate. The things i see these days, makes me lose faith in humanity. Human beings can be such beasts sometimes. I was pretty impressed with the quick response of the armed forces that contained the situation, people who came out in large numbers to donate blood, and those who donated money to assist those in need.

           Of course the release of BlackBerry messenger for Android was an epic fail. They can’t seem to ever keep their promises. They moved from being Research in motion, to research in stagnation, and if they continue this way, pretty soon, they’ll be a thing of the past.

           Its been a week, and i still feel heavy hearted.  I feel really sad for those who died and their grieving families, those who were left with physical and psychological scars. My daughter turns 2 years old on sunday,  i’m trying my darnest to drum up some enthusiasm for that. Maybe i’ll feel better by tomorrow. And on that note i say good bye september. May the best of our today, be the worst of our tomorrow. Amen.

         

Aside