From a Village Girl To Starting PR Firm with ONLY Sh6K. Meet Mary Njoki

Mary Njoki- Glass House PR Managing Director

“Just make sure you mention that I grew up in Ngarariga and not in Limuru town or anywhere fancy for that matter,” says Mary Njoki the young founder and MD of Glass House PR Company

Today though, she is no longer the village girl that she once was but a proud owner of a reknown PR Firm with clients such as Fat Loss Lab Kenya and Film Kenya Magazine. Needless to say, she has attracted one of South African prestigious magazine where her story will run in a couple of days.

“Like a lot of Kenyans, I went to one of those village primary schools with funny names. But that didn’t for a second mean that the village was going to be my fate or I couldn’t dream big,” says the 25yrs old when we meet at The Junction.

Young, dream driven and with a young business that offers online PR and media exposure to individuals such as artists and SME’s, Mary explains of how Glass House PR came to be. “I hadn’t
done so well in maths in KCSE and with dreams of studying Computer Science, I had to to enroll for a bridging course at NIBS."

Unfortunately due to financial constraints, dreams of joining a reputable university seemed sketchy. Not the type to be pinned down by setbacks, the 25 year old says she instead opted to enroll for an affordable certificate course in Business Information & Technology at Graffins College, followed by a diploma and much later with a higher diploma.

“After the higher diploma, I applied for a job with Softlink Options hoping to get an IT vacancy but I got a marketing job where among other duties I worked with various  companies and individuals on specific IT and business skills. You can understand my agony since I had studied for one thing and doing another.”

“All the while for a period of 4 years, I had been volunteering for K Krew Ministries where I was involved in various PR activities which led to a deep interest in Media and public relations.

With no basic knowledge in public or media relations to start with, she was adamant to learn and develop her PR skills. She later got an opportunity through The Orange Company, Kenya’s premier Public Relations, Entertainment & Events company where she worked for five months.

It’s here she got to learn more about media relations, social media management, and event managing as she was involved in handling high flying events such as the Groove Awards .

In August 2012, she decided it was about time to start her own venture. With only Sh6k as her seed capital and a laptop, she bought the most important tool she needed, a modem. 

But times have changed since then. A year and four months later with loads of hardships along the way, Glass House PR is still going strong. Its proudest moment was when Google Kenya shortlisted them last year to handle their PR.

“Even if we did not end up getting the gig as it awarded to a more established company, it was quite a big deal for us. I mean Google contacted us, that should mean something,” says the young MD. who is quick to add that meeting Julie Gichuru at Women in Africa Forum last year who congratulated her for the profound work she was doing was quite memorable as well.

Proud of how far she has come and aiming to make over Ksh8.6M (USD 100,000) this year, she says “I can afford to live on my own now and I have five proud employees today. She adds, "Even though I don’t pay them their dream salaries as some are still on allowances, I believe every company has to start somewhere.”

Currently she has a Managing Partner, Content Developer, an Intern in Media Relations, an online marketer to events and administration personnel.

And while her mother and a lot of Kenyans may not understand what online PR is all about, and with companies opting to remain with traditional PR, Mary is optimistic that 2015 will be a good year for Glass House PR, “I just came from Addis Ababa where I was attending a Conference dubbed Africa Arise and I got to meet a lot of prospect clients from Malawi and Zambia,” she says enthusiastically.

Currently studying part-time for a BA Communication/PR at Daystar University, she calls out on young job seekers crying foul about unemployment to rise up and change the fate of Africa by embracing entrepreneurship.

“If you have an idea and you feel has the potential to grow, look for ways on how you can create wealth and jobs for this generation.”

(I interviewed Mary at the beginning of the Year 2014)