Posted on

The boss of Kennifer

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

The boss of Kennifer

Social Share

KENNIFER MARIUS had one goal early in life: to be CEO of herself.
 At 28, she has achieved that, proving that she has both beauty and brains – which for her has been a winning combination. The former Miss Barbados World beauty queen has launched herself into the world of entrepreneurship with her own mobile spa.
“I had a mobile spa from 2003 called Reflections Mobile Spa,” Kennifer said. “I go around to private hotels and private villas to see clients. I worked at Westmoreland and the Crane.”
Kennifer didn’t just get into this haphazardly. Her foray into business for herself came at the prodding of one her private clients.
“When I was 18, I worked at Suga Suga Spa for three months. Then one day the receptionist there told me about a client that wanted me to come to their home,” Kennifer recalled. “After visiting that client, who was Julie Dash, she said to me, ‘Kennifer, you really should be in business for yourself’. She believed in me so much that she coached me and guided me along the way, and put me on to every single person she knew. It started from there and it was amazing to see how many clients endorse having services at their home. After she spread the word, things just started going fast.”
Kennifer admits that by 21 she was extremely focused and had a list of plans and goals for herself that she was determined to achieve.
To further improve her business acumen and help strengthen her brand, Kennifer decided to go to Toronto to further her studies and become certified.
“Now I’d be a called a PST, which is a professional staff therapist,” she said.
Her education and love for what she does caught the attention of Paul Doyle from the Crane, who hired her in 2010 to manage the spa at the Crane – which she did for a couple of years.
“I did that for two years, opened it, trained the staff, and introduced them to an international product line, but that ended this year in September,” Kennifer revealed.
Kennifer said a big part of leaving her mobile spa to go to work for a company had to do with her becoming a mother to a baby daughter.
“After she reached three months old, it worked out that I could go to work, come home and be with her on evenings,” she said.
But Kennifer admits that as her daughter got older the pull of being her own boss returned because of the flexibility of managing her time.
“I left the Crane because I wanted to start the mobile spa back because in Barbados there are only about two other mobile spas and a lot of people are not doing things the right way. I have a local client database as well. Now I’m working with Bajan Services providing spa services to their clients as well. Plus the flexibility of my time meant I could go for her at school, do homework, go for outings at the beach. The other day she said to me, ‘Mummy, I’m real happy because you’re here’, and it made me cry.”
Kennifer admits that plunging into entrepreneurship requires one to be more hands-on and constantly pushing the business. But with her daughter and spending quality time with her in focus, she is determined to strike a better balance.
“Sometimes when I get in and she’s asleep I would still go and snuggle up with her and she would still turn and snuggle up with me,” she said.
Carving out a niche for herself was important for Kennifer.
“I think other young people need to realize that [entrepreneurship] can happen and it can happen for you only if you put in the work,” she said. “When you’re working for yourself, you’re working harder. It might mean you may not get an off day, but off time. Putting in the work and putting in the time are vital.”
Kennifer, who is passionate about encouraging other young people, is determined to mentor as many as she can.
“In the past years I have been working with Samuel Jackman Prescod [Polytechnic] and the kids there as well, but I’d like to do a seminar, a one-day workshop, where kids can come down and get additional training. So, education next year is the step.”
Kennifer, though, says she wouldn’t trade the path that her life has taken over the past few years, because the experience has been priceless.
“When I first got to college, I wrote down a list of things that I wanted to accomplish before I reached 30, which included getting my own home and other things,” she said. “When I look over that list, a lot of the things I’ve done. Some I still have to accomplish, but it keeps me inspired to keep going.”