The Disruptor Series: Durga Kenny

Mar 07 2023. views 177

“The Disruptor Series” profiles businesspeople and entrepreneurs making waves in their industries; redefining their businesses, spearheading innovation, tackling unprecedented change and disrupting the status quo. Durga Kenny’s professional life is proof that a cookie-cutter career trajectory is not a prerequisite for future success. Before she conceptualised BeWAXed, Durga dabbled in a variety of different careers and tried her hand at various businesses. Today, she has made her mark as the Founder and Director of BeWAXed, Sri Lanka’s first-ever dedicated waxing salon. And she’s only getting started. Married to her soulmate Marcus Kenny, mother to a son (12) and a daughter (7), and successful businesswoman, Durga is proving that women can truly have it all. In this edition of The Disruptor Series Durga talks about the challenges that come with introducing a novel business, the greatest advice she has received and shares her own advice for entrepreneurs looking to spearhead new ventures.

What were your aspirations as a child? Did you always want to start your own business?
I loved fashion as a child I took a fashion designing certification right after my A-levels, however after I completed my certification, I didn’t feel it was for me, so then took a beautician certification course.  Can I say I was constantly trying to find myself? I opened a small waffle café for a short while and then was a personal assistant to a director for almost 4 years. Did I always want to start my own business? No never even dreamt of it.  

You’re well known for BeWAXed, which is the first full-service waxing salon in the country. What made you start this business?
After I had my 1st born and he started Montessori, I needed to do something with the bit of time I had when he was at school, plus we needed the extra income. I used to visit a small house that had waxing for women, the situation for waxing at this place was very basic and hygiene was not so great. Big jugs of hot wax with knives to spread the wax on your body, reusable cloth strips, etc.

However, the basic concept of just having a space for waxing was great. Marcus suggested we rebrand and change the way waxing was provided here in Sri Lanka, bringing it to international standards.
So, my husband suggested we open a small salon that had only waxing, but a different approach to how the other salons were marketing it at the time. Unheard of really to have an exclusive salon only for waxing.  Many salons at the time considered it to be a small portion of their sales.  We branded waxing very differently when we opened our 1 roomed salon back in 2013. 

You launched a skincare/intimate care line recently. How was the process of creating these products? How are you ensuring that consumers can derive the best benefits from them?
During our journey with BeWAXed, we have gotten to meet different clients with different needs and expectations from the waxing experience. We needed to provide a pre and post-care solution for our clients which complimented their whole waxing experience. We are the 1st in  Sri Lanka to have an ingrown spray for post-hair removal. We 1st started with our ingrown spray and now have 9 products for our clients to use as pre and post-care. We take pride in manufacturing our products here in Sri Lanka by women for women, using nothing but natural ingredients with no harmful chemicals. 

You also have other ventures you’re engaged in. 
I am constantly looking at ways to branch out from 1 brand but also keeping in mind that they need to complement each other. We have another new venture coming out in the next few months.  

Have you had an aha moment that made you rethink your approach to your businesses?
I have several during the week actually, small aha moments. Every day is an experience, especially in the service industry. I will say that you need to constantly follow what your heart tells you. Trust your gut.

Who are your role models in the business world?
So many strong women, how do I name only one?  I am inspired every day by strong, motivated, focused women and I am in awe of women who manage to juggle it all.  I admire entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks and that keep innovating. 

What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
When you have a problem stop and think is this going to bother or affect you in five or ten years? if the answer is no then let it go and stop let it worrying you now.

What was the most discouraging moment you experienced while starting a new venture?
So many people were not so convinced that an exclusive waxing salon would work. 10 years back in 2013 and even just last year when we entered the Indian market. Many discouraging words, people don’t have a lot of faith in waxing and what a beautiful service it is. You need to always believe in the dream, despite the negativity.

As a woman and a mother, some things people still consider to be a weakness, how do you leverage this to benefit you in your businesses?
I can multitask and delegate really well thanks to raising my kids and this is a trait I am able to use in my business. 
Yes, the demands of balancing work and family life are super hard, but managing time between both and finding the perfect blend that suits you is key. 

As a woman, I can also understand what my clients are on the lookout for in terms of the services, this way we are able to offer treatments that clients love. 

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out?
Can I be honest, what I know now is what has shaped my brand, all the tears, late nights, and hard work have shaped the way I run my business now. Valuable lessons throughout the journey.  

What are the key elements of running a successful business?
Patience, passion, focus, teamwork, and not forgetting where you started.

The covid pandemic was unexpected and threw everyone for a loop. What did that experience teach you? Has it made you rethink how you do business?
Yes, covid hit us hard being in the service industry, our business requires close contact with our clients to conduct the service. However, the ministry guidelines upon returning to work were very similar to what we were using before covid, like gloves, disinfectant, sanitization, etc. so it was not a huge change to what we were already doing. 

What was your greatest achievement/proudest moment?
The greatest achievement would be my kids. My proudest moment is yet to come.

Is there a quote/mantra you live by?
What’s meant for you, the universe will give you. Let the rest go. 

What do you envision for yourself and your business for the next few years?
The dream is big and I push myself every day closer to those goals. My ultimate dream is to be globally recognized as a professional waxing salon.

What causes are you passionate about?
Career growth, learning a new skill, Health & Fitness 

What are some things no one knows about you?
I can be an introvert at times. I am soft on the inside even though I may seem like I am tough on the outside. 

What advice would you give entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, starting out?
Stay focused on the dream, and find ways to make it happen. Start small and build from there, be wise about how you manage your money.



Rihaab Mowlana

Journalist. Content Writer. Entrepreneur. Educator. You can follow Rihaab on Twitter & Instagram - @rihaabmowlana


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