How I built My Award-Winning Creative Company

Catherine Mumbi, Co-Founder and CEO, Simply Mammoth Solutions

An inner drive to do things differently drove me out of employment into marketing and advertising.

I am Catherine Mumbi, the co-founder and CEO of Simply Mammoth Solutions−a marketing and creative agency that helps businesses accomplish their objectives through creative concepts, design and build in the following five areas: Exhibition Stands, Interior Design, Workspace Branding, Graphics Design and Events Management.

Born and raised in Kisumu, I always imagined how the city was like. I had big dreams…I still do…I would always push the boundaries in my imagination. Growing up I wanted to become a nurse, just like my mum. I liked caring for people and I would be consumed by compassion.

Not one to stay idle, I went door to door in Kisumu town looking for a job and by evening I was an employee of a gift shop. In a month I moved on to a phone shop where I made loads of money selling phones and phones accessories before university came calling. I was admitted to Kenyatta University to study Family and Consumer studies amidst protests. Although I hadn’t wished for the course, after a short while I started liking its consumer aspect.

Some of SMS team receiving an award

In 2003, while still a student, I participated in Miss Kenya western Kenya. The Emcee was impressed by my personality and offered me a job on condition that I complete my undergraduate studies. After graduating in 2004, he let me run a company he had registered but was not operational. This was the first time I experienced entrepreneurship. Client and staff accusation, talent management, Cashflow management, PR, Income generation, Negotiation ability are some of the skills I quickly needed to learn. Four months later I moved on to a new challenge in a marketing firm and went on to hold two other jobs with printing firms.

I learnt a lot from my employers and colleagues, some deliberately mentored me while I watched some from afar.  I learnt from their genius and mistakes. I will be forever grateful to them.

After six years in employment, I woke up one day and realised that my inner drive to opt out on my own and do things differently was driving me crazy.

I shocked my husband when I dropped the bombshell. He was scared for a while and thought that I would struggle without a job.

Much to his chagrin, I resigned and took over an idle company he had registered−Simply Mammoth Solutions.

Luckily, I got a good contract on my first day on the job and I have never looked back.

In about a month I was shocked, happy and confused when I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying to have a baby for a while and i couldn’t believe it happened after I left employment! Now I had two babies to raise – a business and a real baby! I had a difficult pregnancy for the first three months. I knew I had to work otherwise it would not have made sense leaving employment. Armed with a supportive husband, I worked from home for the first six months before moving to our office. My pregnancy was very smooth after three months hence I achieved quite a lot before the baby came.

We have expanded our scope of work from just focusing on below-the-line advertising to: Graphics design; Concept, design and build of Exhibition stands, Interior Design, Workspace branding and Event Management. Through my work with many of my clients, we have won many awards in exhibition stands service and most recently we were recognized by Africa MICE Awards as the Best Expo Solutions Provider of the Year- 2019.

God has blessed me with an amazing team both at home and at work. A wise woman once told me “For a woman to do much and great, for a woman to scale, she must surround herself with an army, an army she can depend on”

I encourage my employees to be their own bosses. Through that, they have had tremendous growth, I have been able to get the best out of them, and get things done easily. This has also enabled me to get time for myself and family.

In 2015, we conceptualized an event dubbed Women Words and Wine−a convention for female professionals to meet, exchange pleasantries and empower each other over a glass of wine. As a society I realised women are too busy to meet and catch up, laugh, exhale and share wisdom. Hence the birth of WWW.

I am also passionate about mentoring and empowering young girls. I have been engrossed in empowering young women I work with who are beautiful, ethical, talented and ambitious. They form the bulk of my workforce.

I lover reading because it expands my mind and reasoning and helps me discover amazing things in life about the world and its people. For instance, one may not get a chance to meet Richard Branson but through his memoirs, biographies, we get to learn about him, his great works and how he did it.

Catherine with her team

My recent favourite book is Shoe Dog – by the NIKE founder Phil Knight. A phenomenal true story of an outrageous dream, a dream team and persistence to stay alive and succeed in business.

They gave of themselves and everything they had so that NIKE can become NIKE. That is despite the fact that Adidas was “the giant” when the dream was born- typical David and Goliath story. You will be amazed that what kept them awake at night was not Adidas but loans that they were just about to default, shipment that were late to arrive hence tying up all capital with no stock available , a bank that physically threw them out and called FBI on them, painful product quality issues from unethical manufacturers – the only ones available, law suits that leaned towards jail term, late salaries, unfair competition, ….the list is almost endless.

Just like NIKE, in the middle of all the struggles, I am building an empire, a safe place for creatives, young and talented souls, who are passionate and committed to become the best.

My advice to young girls? You are beautiful, don’t look for validation! Find what you love doing and do it as only you can. Find your purpose and work tirelessly towards making life better and honourable for you and others. Avoid negative energy. Find a solution and move on.

 

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