Soft spoken and cheerful, Chrissy Ethel Namono, 28, is a landscaper and the Chief Executive Ofiicer (CEO) of Iconic Hedges. She describes herself as a prayerful, humble and busy person.
“I am a mother of two; a seven-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy. I am not married, I have few people I consider friends and I am a really busy person. I am also not a party person since I am more committed to my work, my children and my faith,” she says.
“I am a very empathetic person when I see people suffering and going through challenges. However, I do not bring that to my work. When it comes to my work, I am a very strict person with a love for accuracy and perfect things,” she adds.
Namono is an accountant, who decided to follow her passion for beautiful homes.
“After working a few jobs as an accountant, I realised these were not places I was comfortable working. I eventually left a job abroad and decided to come back to Uganda and start work on my passion,” she says.
How she started
“What inspired me to start landscaping, and later, Iconic Hedges is the love I had for homes and the community I lived. Though I did not grow up in a beautiful home, as I grew up and adventured in other countries such as Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, among others I appreciated how organised their homes and compounds were,” Namono narrates.
Out of that, every time she visited a home, she found herself re-arranging it, and assembling things.
“With time, I realised that I could do more than imagine. That is the passion I followed,” she adds.
“Starting out, I had only Shs800,000. I used this to buy a mowing machine,” Namono shares.
Clad in overalls, a bag on the shoulders and a lawn mower in hand, she would move door to door looking for clients for whom she would mow compounds.
“I would get clients here and there. Sometimes I would be looked down upon, but I never gave up,” she insists.
Since most of her first clients were people who needed her mowing services, her first client as a landscaper was a home where Namono went to mow the lawn but found their compound out of shape.
“I asked the client whether I could put their compound back in shape for free, which they agreed to. I rendered the service and the compound come out perfectly. They could not believe it,” she exclaims.
After some time, it is the satisfied that started recommending her services to other people leading to the birth of Iconic Hedges in 2016.
“I cannot say I have reached there, but I can at least look back and say, this is an achievement. I started single-handedly, but I have overtime build a team of more 30 people,” Namono relishes.
She adds: “I have worked with a number of prominent clients– who I believe are not comfortable being mentioned in public, as well many average citizens. Recently, we did a concept for Jinja Nile Hotel and their work is still ongoing. Depending on the amount of work, we charge Shs7m and above,” she says.
To improve her skills, Namono pursued a certificate under Real Time designs, concept in Dubai. On top of this are online design courses from Real Time Architecture.
“Other than landscaping, I do interior designing. When I am not in the field, or on my desk, I am designing; making designs out of photos, trying to do things from carpets among others,” she says.
Furthermore, Namono attributes her success as a landscaper and as a person to Godliness and my passion.
Landscaping in Uganda
She however notes that Ugandans have not yet embraced landscaping because most of them think landscaping is just about planting flowers, yet it goes beyond that.
“A landscaper, knows what to plant, how to plant it and the soil type. It is not just a matter of seeing pictures and replicating them but a landscaper should be able to know the right kind of designs for each compound, the right trees for a particular type of compound, which side of the house the compound should be, where the entrance should be,” she explains.
In other words, they are the people who put all the pieces of the puzzle for your compound together.
Namono also notes that what makes her work stand out is her desire to always add value to the client’s property.
“We build a real relationship and go beyond the simple limitations of what the client is able to explain. We go beyond and provide satisfactory work,” she says.
The first challenge is that she has to be on ground most of the time.
“However, the biggest challenges I have faced are with some of my clients who do not want to pay. You enter into contract with someone but later when they see that you have done their work, they stop you along the way and not pay the rest of the money,” she explains.
At times as a mother, she also fails to make time for her children.
In conclusion, Namono acknowledges that we all have fears; fears of leaving places where we are, fear to jeopardise our current incomes, and in the end, people forgo their passions.
“For each of us, there is something you are passionate about. At some point, I thought having my job was everything to me but when I got out, I realised that doing what I love is much better.