You can’t be from Kisumu and fail to know some of these people who run this town. Noon is an entrepreneur in a variety of businesses her latest venture being a manufacturer of cosmetics, toiletries and detergents.
Winnie Adhiambo Ochieng’ is the proprietor behind Kisumu’s celebrated joint Club Buccaneers – a business whose history goes back to 2014 after a series of successful joints in the lakeside city of Kisumu together with her husband. Before that there was Area 51 in 2009 which was the first entertainment spot they ever had, then came Barizi Lakeside Grille (Kondele) in 2010. In 2012 they opened their third joint Cafe Ole at the United Mall which was later closed down to start up Kamikaze Bar and Restaurant in 2014. In the same year when the duo came up with Kamikaze on the first floor, Club Buccaneers was born on the 3rd floor of the same building.
Many know her as Noon but don’t know why they call her Noon. “I was born in Mombasa and my mother was very good friends with a white lady called Margaret Noon. She nicknamed me after her. So Noon is my special name. Everyone calls me Noon including you (referring to me) but not many know why I’m called Noon. Now they know” she says.
An alumni of Kisumu Girls, Eregi Girls Boarding Primary School and also Kibuye Mixed Primary School, Noon did her undergraduate at Kenyatta University and boasts of being an Environmentalist by proffesion and an associate EIA expert registered by NEMA. Something not so many know about, quite a lot of people know Noon for her Entrepreneurial husles in the entertainment and real estate businesses with her husband. Only at 28, Noon recently found another gap in Kisumu’s market and got into something new.
“6 months ago I made the decision to venture into the manufacturing industry with my 2 business partners and WIPEDO Enterprises Limited was born. A company that manufactures cosmetics, toiletries and detergents” she tells me. They have a wide range of soaps ranging from laundry bar soaps, herbal bathing soaps, powder detergent, liquid soaps etc. In addition, Noon and her business partners manufactures shampoo, conditioners, toothpaste, petroleum jelly, lotions amongst 57 other products. The laundry bar soap is called SOL while YOM is their range of herbal soaps. These are currently available in most Kisumu shops and are quickly gaining popularity due to the fact that they are natural soaps and have proven to be very good in treating skin problems such as eczema, rashes and pimples.
One thing she tells me about the challenge in the soap manufacturing is a problem with the immediate consumers. “Guys here won’t buy your soap easily. They buy brands instead and leave locally made stuff. They’ll go for those brand names but feel not to support local productions. However we are currently gaining fast popularity and we shall soon be a top name in Kisumu’s soap manufacturers” Noon says.
Of the soap business, she says they have other products that are still in line waiting for KEBS certification and not available for sale yet. “At WIPEDO We have a 10 year plan to enable us develop all 57 products to the best quality of standards. At just 6 months, we have already completed the development of our 6th product” she says.
Winnie wasn’t born an entrepreneur but through life lessons and the people she says she’s been meeting including her husband, have made her embrace what she does now. “While growing up I badly wanted to be a flight attendant or a journalist. But the journalism dream failed to materialize. For the flight attendant, I actually passed my interview with Qatar Airways in 2013 and a date was even set for me to travel and begin training. Unfortunately or fortunately a lot more was at stake, I had to sadly decline the offer but hey, here I am 4 years later and I am certain without a doubt that I made the right decision” she recalls.
All through the interview session, I realized she got a very lively and fun loving personality. She tells me it just didn’t begin yesterday. “I had an amazing childhood. With the best of siblings anyone could ever wish for, we used to tell jokes and everyone was just happy. Like when now my cousins were being taken to a boarding school when I was in class 2, I really cried coz I was going to miss the fun we used to have” Noon says.
Her parents moved from Mombasa where she was born to Kisumu while she was young and it’s at Kisumu’s Baraka in Manyatta that Noon was brought up and she says if she was to live her childhood in Baraka again, she would gladly do it over and over again coz “That life taught me a lot and we lived like a community. I miss those days I tell you” Noon shares.
Definitely being in business, she might be a busy lady but she tells me she finds time to do her favorite activities/hobbies. “Travelling anytime”, that’s her main hobby and it’s from where she narrated to me about an incident that she might not forget any time soon. “Even though I love travelling but it once made me so embarrassed. My first time boarding an plane was in 2007. Then we still had East African Airline. The entire check in process was a nightmare I tell you. Then upon boarding and take off, the flight attendant offered me refreshments. I declined the offer even though everyone else was served simply because I thought I would be billed. Upon landing, whilst everyone else went to the luggage area to pick up their luggage, I stood next to the plane amidst the noise and wind waiting for my luggage to be handed over to me” Noon recalls this incident and we had to pause the interview as I had to give this a good laugh. In deed there’s a first time for everything.
Apart from travelling, Noon loves spending her time with her young family. “I am a wife to an amazing man. I’ve been with him since I was 18 years old, 10 years later, we still tight. I am also blessed to be the mother of two beautiful babies, a boy and a girl” she speaks of her family.
Noon also loves writing and as we went through a number of articles she’s done, she agreed to have a corner in Kisumu Insyder just for her articles on business and entrepreneurship, entertainment and social issues weekly for lovers of her words. So watch out for Winnie Noon’s Corner just on the Kisumu Insyder website
As we come close to ending our discussion with Noon, I ask her to give her thoughts on why she thinks there is an increase in the number of young single parents in Kisumu today, most importantly single mothers, an emerging issue in Kisumu. “Nobody wakes up and decides to be a single parent. Life happens and along the way beautiful babies are born. Parenting is just simply that.I have a lot of respect to single parents mostly ladies who have put all their issues aside and dedicated their lives and time to raise their babies. It takes strength to make up the decision to raise a child alone. Society needs to respect single mothers. On matters of dating, no woman should feel less of a woman for being single. Take your time and when the right person comes along you will feel it” the business lady words regarding the issue.
I again ask her about another emerging Kisumu issue regarding the rise of sponsors. Noon says, “To the sponsored ladies, you won’t be young forever. Soon, there will be younger girls around and as years go by you will end up hopeless and miserable. Learn to get up and hustle for your own money, however little”
Lastly, I ask her to give her favorite aspirant for the Kisumu Gubernatorial race and I find her a very interesting and smart business person. “I’m aware that my political affiliation can greatly influence my business either way, so I beg not to disclose this. However, I really wish that we could open our eyes to the reality. Prices of unga keep rising by the day and we are all affected. Forget about the handouts, fancy campaign convoys and parades/rallies and let us focus on the one and only thing which is important – the ability of an aspirant to deeply understand the current situation, acknowledge that there is a problem somewhere and be driven to make better the situation”
Noon as we finish says that she’s one lady inspired by change and that there is a great feeling of self appreciation that she gets anytime she gets the opportunity to impact someone’s life positively. “I’d love to think of myself as work in progress. Different people define success differently. My definition of success is simply the ability to touch and better peoples lives I’m happy and grateful for the far that I have come but I know that I have a long way to go” she concludes.