When twenty-six-year-old beauty entrepreneur, influencer, and philanthropist Huddah Monroe, real name, Alhuda Sonie Njoroge, left her family home in Kajiado, Kenya, in her teen years, she had no idea where life would lead her.
She was running away from a violent stepfather, desperate to be somewhere else, even if it meant sleeping inside the street trenches.
She worked several jobs to be able to fend for herself, starting out as a secretary in an architecture company at the age of 17, working for Nairobi based Italian restaurant Osteria Del Chianti at 18 years, and later working with Euro Collections, a retail clothing store in Nairobi before her employment reign ended and later joining the modeling world as a freelancer. Huddah became one of the most sought-after models.
Her poise and elegance attracted the attention of some of the biggest brands and magazines in the industry. She appeared in many music videos to raise school fees and pay house rent with the help of her mother.
“My mother offered me a lot of support. She would tell me that whatever we were going through was not the end of the world. She encouraged me to keep going and yeah, her words pushed me.”
Appearing in music videos earned her a bit of fame, but her major breakthrough came in 2013 when she represented her home country, Kenya, in Big Brother Africa, a reality show that happened in South Africa. The show was one of the most-watched reality shows in Africa.
She rode on the exposure gained to establish different business ventures, and to build her personal brand. Huddah is currently one of the most followed East Africans, boosting a following of over 2.2million. Her net worth is valued at over $5million.
Cutting her teeth in business
Huddah learned her way with money early on in life. From her first salary from the secretarial job, she knew she had to multiply it rather than waste it away. She is always looking for opportunities to build her earning muscle, and it is this attitude that has fueled her to launch a string of businesses including; a fashion line under which she has a list of brands; body by Huddah, a lingerie brand, Rebel Nairobi and Huddah Clothing which deals in Muslim wear.
She has also been able to turn her social media power into a business. She is currently the biggest social digital influencer in East Africa. A number of big brands collaborate with her to sell their products and services. She has worked as a brand ambassador for several brands, including alcohol powerhouse, Luc Belaire, Brighten Mi and others.
Huddah also had her hand in real estate, she dabs in real estate consultancy through her company Huddah Luxury based in Dubai. She is also into farming in Kenya.
Her most known business venture currently is Huddah cosmetics, a luxury lipstick brand that is easily affordable, unlike others that are pricey. Launching the brand, Huddah says she saw a gap in the market.
“People ask me how I managed to managed to make the brand a success, and I tell them, it is because I was able to bring into the market a product that complements the African skin. I have been a victim
buying expensive make-up from Europe that don’t compliment my skin colour as make-up should do,” she says.
Whereas many attribute the success of her brand to her popularity, Huddah thinks otherwise, “People don’t buy your product because you are famous. In this business, quality is everything. You can be Huddah, but if your product is not good, no one is going to purchase it. Huddah Cosmetics is doing well because we brought a product that was previously lacking yet people needed it.”
Huddah says it was never easy to get formulas that cater for black people, because most manufacturers focused more on producing formulas for light-skinned people.
Yet Huddah Cosmetics was started with much of its focus targeting the African market, the brand has greatly been embraced outside the continent and now has outlets in France, and other countries.
Huddah says they are now aiming at establishing outlets and partners at least across all continents and
Huddah Cosmetics currently has over 10 lipstick shades, eye-shadow lines and make-up wipes under the line.
With the success of the Huddah Cosmetics brand, one would expect Huddah to sit back and put her feet up; instead, she is even getting hungrier. She wants to build her empire bigger.
Not long ago, she launched a new skincare brand, named, Rich Beauty LLC, in Dubai where she currently resides.
Huddah says she got tired of the comfort zone, she has enjoyed her life, travelled the world but now she says she is now about work, and changing the lives of people, “You know, I started by posting my bikini pictures online because that is what I liked then. It gave me joy. But we all transform from caterpillars to butterflies. I drew the line somewhere and started focusing on serious things.
I was tired of travelling the world doing nothing, so I sat back home to do something for the people. Now here we are, I am now occupied by what to do for the people, which product to launch next, and all that.”
Realizing the weight of the platform she has been given, she has resorted to using it for good in a way that does not drown her authenticity. Through the Huddah Foundation, she caters for the needs of less fortunate children in Kenya.
Going forward, Monroe’s agenda is to champion Youth and Women Empowerment, encourage the growth of more entrepreneurs like herself and motivate her massive online following by encouraging them to dare to dream and reach for greatness, regardless of who they are, where they come from or what they have been through. Hers is a story of second chances; everyone deserves them.