At the age of 28, Chrissy Ethel Namono owns one of the biggest landscaping, interior and exterior design companies in Uganda.
The mother and business woman is passionate about transforming environments, outdoor and indoor, into works of art and beauty.
Ms Namono’s journey into this business started way back after her Degree in Social Sciences at Uganda Christian University.
Her passion for transforming environments persuaded her to pursue a course in landscaping in the United Arab Emirates a few years after her Bachelor’s degree.
“Upon my return, I noticed the need for beautiful outdoors in this country,” says Ms Namono. She felt the country needed a break from the monotony that had been plaguing our compounds for decades.
Ms Namono admits that she lacked the confidence of getting clients, or the capital to start this company. So she first got a mowing machine and moved from house to house, inquiring if there was anyone that needed work on their compounds.
“It was really a hard trek but I was determined and I knew this was my destiny,” says Ms Namono.
“To raise capital, I started by mowing people’s compounds, one by one and slowly added my skill of designing by touching up their already grown compounds. With skill I exhibited, they kept on hiring me and recommending me to other clients,” she says.
Slowly, she was able to raise some capital to start Iconic Hedges. Many people liked her ideas and this helped her attract more partners that further boosted the expansion of Iconic hedges.
Two heads are better than one. Great people like Mr Alex Mukuluma came on board and we decided to invest more in the business, Ms Namono says.
With savings from the door to door activity, Iconic Hedges was able to procure the services of some members or staff to execute the planned architectural work in landscaping. We also kept handling all the site work including gardening and planning.
They also further hired graphic designers in a bid to make the whole experience a professional one, giving clients the best of what they deserve in landscaping.
“I kept reinventing myself, and kept reading up on as much as possible in order to stay afloat regarding the latest on landscaping,” Ms Namono adds.
Ms Namono recalls: “It was not easy. I had to be aggressive in my work ethics to beat deadlines of the few contracts that we had gotten then, keep the quality consistent and break through an industry that was that was still new in this country.”
Eventually, they also procured more machines to ease the work and this saw the business expanding in leaps and bounds.
Worth of business
Iconic Hedges has been growing financially over time. After running several contracts Ms Namono’s company is worth Shs50 million. It employs six permanent staff and some few on contract-based employment who come in to execute particular assignments. Some of these employees are administrators, business development officers, accountanst and business executives, among others.
Ms Namono credits the company’s success to high integrity, hard work, marketing, high-quality standards and passion for what she does.
“Landscaping is a passion and being in this business is a dream come true. Therefore, I will toil to make it a success,” Ms Namono adds.
This business is a newly introduced money-making venture that many did not think about.
“Our first plan is popularise it so that people can appreciate that having a good compound is more than just mowing it,” Ms Namono says.
Iconic Hedges hopes to introduce and foster unique aspects of landscaping such as food and medicinal gardens, amongst others.
Iconic Hedges was been awarded the Best Customer Service award by the Backyard Gardeners in 2017. Ms Namono says this is one of their biggest achievements. “Awards always appreciate good work and we are happy to have been part of this.”
The company has also executed several big contracts that include even hotels. This they say is a very big motivation to them because they have been trusted.
“We have given many people employment including plumbers and casual labourers. Therefore, we are happy that people can earn a living from our existence,” says Ms Namono.
Ms Namono’s firm also innovated a new waste water filter system last year which has been adopted by many people so this is a great achievement.
Challenges of landscaping business
Landscaping is an upcoming lucrative business in this era because some developers are now interested in having well-designed compounds.
But one of the challenges of this business is the informal culture in the face of formality. Most people are not ready to commit to a professional conduct of payment in this business.
“With a professional setting that is Iconic hedges, we face a hard time convincing people to adopt this kind of setting,” she says.
Contractual developments are also slow and difficult to uphold. Many people do not believe you can contract a company to do the business of compound designing. They take a lot of time thinking about this and in the end, the contract is dropped.
The attitude of people towards landscaping is also still very poor. They think it is just about mowing the grass in the compounds.