Beauty in the middle of Mogadishu

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Deeqa Luul opened cosmetics shops and a salon in Mogadishu, and her efforts are bearing fruit

Deeqa Luul is beautiful, brave and cautious. At the first mention of an interview, she cocks her head and asks every possible question about why her, why now, why this magazine and a host of other whys. Satisfied with the responses, she leans back on her black leather seat and says, “You’ll have to come back tomorrow. This is an ambush.” Luul speaks softly but very firmly. It is clear that she measures and means every word that comes out of her mouth.

Having lived and done business in London, she using her experience there to set the trends in the beauty industry in Somalia, bringing quality service and sophistication to a market that is just finding its footing. Luul, however, doesn’t sound like a Londoner, although she lived there, studied there, set up her first beauty shop there and still calls the place home. She sounds every bit a Somali woman.

“The first business venture I opened in Mogadishu was a cosmetics shop; Asli Pure Care. The door to my premises opened in 2013.” Luul does not light up like many people do when they talk about their first business venture. Asli Pure Care Somalia was opened two years after Asli Pure Care London opened shop. It may have not have been her first, but she definitely remembers what she found when she came to Mogadishu. “I had US$18,000 for my capital investment. This industry was opening up so I joined the few beauticians that had already set up. I got a place, and set up shop,” she recalls.

Running the business was not a big deal, even though she had to do a lot of running between London, Mogadishu and Nairobi, where she also has a shop. Come 2015, she decided to add a salon and two shops in Mogadishu.
The beauty salon that runs under the same brand name came with its own challenges. “I had to import every equipment and machine that I use in my salon. When the salon was ready, I realised that I had a much bigger problem. There were no local skilled female workers whom I could hire. So I had to assemble a team of women, train them on everything from how to do proper facials to how to handle the machines, and offer them certificates. Some of these ladies now work for me while others went to work in some other salons within Mogadishu.”

Luul is aware of the existence of competition, but she has tapped on the power of advertising to market her company. “I’ am sure that 90 per cent of women in Mogadishu know about Asli Pure Care given our advertisement on TV,” she says confidently. She, however, believes that her business stands apart from the others. “I have the latest machines.

“I had to import every
equipment and machine
that I use in my salon.
When the salon was
ready, I realised that I had
a much bigger problem;
lack of skilled workers.”
Deeqa Luul

That is one thing I can count on to set me apart from the rest. And every one of the machines is imported and top quality. The way I go about my businesses is at the most professional level,” says the beautician whose under-graduate degree was in Public Health from the West London University. She later studied beauty.

Her salon has all the marks of a well-run business. The said equipment for hair dressing and the massage beds are all in pristine condition. Most of her clients are young or middle aged women.

About being a female entrepreneur in Somalia, she says it comes with challenges, although not gender specific. “I had to import my equipment. If a man was doing the same business, he would have done that too. And the public respects our work, so I really see no hindrances to doing business as a woman in Somalia today. Forget the cultural roles talk for a while. I’m married and my husband supports me fully. And if I’m not wrong, nearly 60 per cent of women who live in Mogadishu are entrepreneurs or they are working in some form of business.” Her worry at the moment is about how to keep growing her business in Somalia and meet the needs of her clients.

At 34 years and with branches in Nairobi, London, Hargeisa in Somalia, Jigjiga in Ethiopia and one more in Djibouti, she must be doing something right. Her supreme business philosophy is taking “calculated risks”.