My Wife & I were Fired in 2020, Now we Own a Successful Business

  • A man pictured while working on his personal computer.
    A man pictured while working on his personal computer.
    File
  • I met my husband at one of the five-star hotels at the heart of Nairobi.

    He was a respected chef on his way up the ladder, and I worked as a waitress.

    Call it a cosmic coincidence but for some reason, our shifts were in sync, and we got to see a lot of each other.

    I found him funny, in a goofy kind of way. He also had this annoying but cute way of always finding a positive spin to anything.

    If it rained unexpectedly, he'd be the guy that would say something e weird like 'let's go dance in the rain'.

    A picture of a hotel room in Nairobi.
    A picture of a hotel room in Nairobi.
    File

    One thing led to another and we got hitched.

    By the time the pandemic struck, our 5-year-old (Max) already had a gang of his own at school.

    If I had known then (at the start of the pandemic) what was going to happen in the future, I think I'd have convinced my other half to just hang up his toque and try something on his own.

    However, none of us saw it coming.

    We just woke up one day to letters of dismissal.

    When they say pandemic hit the hospitality industry the hardest, they mean it in every sense of the word.

    Everything changed.

    The new school schedule meant we had a crucial decision to make. Fast.

    Do we gamble with our life savings in an attempt to start something sustainable, or do we eat away at it and try to wait out this unexpected viral storm?

    We decided to take a trip down to our bank (Co-op bank Ruaka), to get all the information we'd need to choose which path to take.

    Call it luck, or years of diligent saving, but we actually got to learn that we could access a sizable chunk of money. 

    Enough to keep Max and his private 'school gang' together. Enough to start a food truck business we'd been shelving for years.

    But not enough to do both.

    Our business plan was solid, but we always found some reason as to why it was never the right time.

    Max needed something...was our favourite excuse.

    In a way, the pandemic pushed us into the kind of corner that could only be conquered by taking a leap of faith.

    We took another trip to the bank just to cross the t's and dot the i's.

    They also helped set us up with their new eCommerce platform that has now become the lifeline of our business.

    Starting your own business looks like a lot of fun on those YouTube motivational videos. All rosy and inspiring, complete with an infectious soundtrack.

    Nothing quite prepares you for the actual work that goes into it. The sleepless nights, the fights with your partner (in my case, my actual life partner), the crazy hours you put into it.

    Nothing also prepares you for the sheer satisfaction when it all comes together.

    For us, this particular moment is just a few days away.

    Almost exactly a year since we made our first sale, we are just about to break even. 

    I still can't believe how we got here. What I can say for sure is that the pandemic has been good for business.

    People order more now. Is this the new normal? I have no clue, but with Max and his ever-positive dad by my side, I am now convinced that I can adapt to any situation.

    A silhouette of a family.
    A silhouette of a family.