From the slums of Cameroon to owning my own beauty salon in East London
‘Nothing destined me to live the life I enjoy today.’
I was born in Douala in a poor and crowded house. Opportunities and prospects of a better life were slim. I quickly realised that if I wanted anything more for myself, I had to leave Cameroon. I learnt about a way to Europe through university and set my mind to it. Everyone thought this was too big of a dream that I would never reach. But I didn’t let anyone go against my determination. I worked hard every day with this one goal in mind.
When I was 22, I was offered an opportunity I couldn’t refuse: to go to Italy to work as I always dreamt of. I arrived in Parma alone with just a few belongings, leaving my husband and two young daughters back home. I felt more than ever the responsibility to earn a decent living for myself and my family.
I wish I could tell you that the colour of my skin didn’t matter so much in the way I was welcomed. But this wouldn’t be the truth. When I started looking for work, I hoped to be offered the same opportunities as any other young and hard-working woman. I soon found out that the only positions available to me were being a cleaner or taking care of the elderly, which no one else wanted to do.
This wasn’t good enough. I hadn’t worked so hard, studied for so many hours and left my family in Cameroon so that I could clean after other people. Once again, I decided to go against the odds. I visited the jobcentre again and again until they told me about an opening in a spa. I applied, and to everyone’s surprise, they hired me as a massage therapist.
It’s there that I discovered a new world of wellness and beauty, where hard work is valued, and the client’s experience is at the heart of everything you do. I enjoyed every aspect of it. My clients often said I had ‘good hands’ which gave me confidence in pursuing a career in beauty. I wanted to learn more and train to provide other treatments.
The next six years were hectic. I found a way to support myself, work, train at the renowned Ecipar Beauty school and take care of my family now living with me. I can’t say it was easy. There were many obstacles, I was told ‘no’ more times than ever before, but I always saw past it. I had a new goal to reach – to work for myself and open my own salon.
‘You get to choose – either you have a good excuse not to start or a great story about how you started.’
In 2009, I opened the first Black-owned beauty salon in Parma. I established my reputation thanks to my knowledge and expert skills. But it’s my positive, kind and professional attitude that my clients came back for.
I found happiness and a healthy balance between a job I enjoyed and more time for my family. And in 2013, when my youngest daughter moved to London to pursue her career, I decided to join her. I realised that beauty treatments are easily provided anywhere in the world – the expertise and knowledge you gained are your own to keep. Starting again was an easy choice because I already had a lot to offer.
The first version of Good Hand Therapy in London was different from what it is now. It was much smaller and much harder to find. I rented a back room near Bethnal Green Station that I was told ‘was never going to work as a beauty salon’. Yet it did. I made it work. Three years later, I moved into my current location on Bethnal Green Road where I welcome clients every day to provide the best beauty treatments at a competitive price.
After 19 years of working in a beauty salon, I still love my job. I know that I’m lucky, but only because I created my own luck. Now I want to share everything I learnt along the way for people to discover their potential and thrive.
With Good Hand Therapy Academy, I offer specialised training for all level beauty therapists (and therapists-to-be!). With my training, you will excel in a fulfilling job and start earning an income as soon as the next day.
I’m looking forward to meeting you!
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