SPOTLIGHT ON HAIRDRESSING AS A PROFITABLE OCCUPATION

 

Ayo Agholor

            Just last week on our personality of
the week  page, we featured Mr. Ndidi
Okobia, the Deputy Registrar, Exams and Records, College of Education, Agbor
who said “Even if there is no employment, get educated. It is better then
ignorance.” This statement was made to encourage people to apply acquired
education to every area of human activity, not only for white collar jobs. This
week we beam our searchlight on one of the most thriving small scale industry
in our communities and how most of our youths 
are taking advantage of it to live a stable life. Hairdressing is an occupation that is booming now as women become
ever more conscious of their personal image. This is a profession that dates
back into thousands of years in Africa where it is believed in some cultures
that a person’s spirit occupied his or her hair; thus giving hairdressers high
status within these communities. The status of hairdressing encourage many to
develop their skills and close relationships were built between hairdressers
and their clients. Hairdressing is achieved using a combination of hair
coloring, braiding (plaiting and weaving) to achieve beautiful results.

            Weaving or plaiting which is a very
integral part of hairdressing comes under the generic name of braiding. Often
times, we hear someone say “I want to go and plait my hair or I want to go and
weave my hair.” These terms are used interchangeably to mean one and the same
thing. Here in Ika nation, our women are doing wonderfully well as they are not
lagging behind among other women in Nigeria when it comes to important part of
beautifying the individual; hairdressing. A few years ago, what comes to mind
when you enter a salon is perming or washing and setting with rollers.  With the influence of Ghanaians who migrated
to Nigeria as economic refuges in the 70s and 80s, Ghana weaving as it is
popular called has become a household name and an integral part of hair
beautification in Nigeria. Even with the introduction of weaveon’s like,
Darling  Yaki, Miss Rola, Swirl Girl,
Adorable, Rosemary, Noble Chinese, chairman, Princess, Yanky flip etc, weaving
of any design or style still come under the name of Ghana weaving. The
proliferation of hair beauty salon also has to do with some reasons. Majorly,
it is economic, as it helps hard working Ika women to play a good role in home
and nation building. Gone are the days when women fold their hands hoping to be
spoonfed by men who are equally searching for women who will assist them in
sharing their economic burden. These days, because of the high standard of
hairdressers in our communities, you can hardly find a woman not adorable to
the sight since the magic wand of looking beautiful is with hairdressers. Other
reason why women patronize Ghana weaving more than putting on weave on or
wearing wig lies in the durability. According to Pat Ulebor, the proprietor of
Pat Beauty Salon, at Prof Ebie by Isede Junction, she said that most women
prefer weaving because it is easy to fly and it is economical in the long  run. “Wearing a well made weaving style can
last for a month or two. Comparatively, weave on takes two weeks. The
convenience is also a plus, for with weaving, you can fly the hair even without
combing. For some women, combing every morning can be stressful so to avoid it,
they opt for the convenient weaving style.

            In weaving, there are different
styles like twisting and feathers while 
Azonto, Galaxy, Centre parting and keke napep among others come under
styles in weavon classification. These names, Pat said are generated from hair
styles of musicians and popular artiste like Rihana and other local artiste.
How these names enjoy general acceptance around the country is in explainable
she said.  

            The amount charged for weaving after
the purchase of weaveon (also called attachment) varies depending on the
intricacy of the style.     

            So there is no fixed price as we
witnessed negotiations ranging from N1300-N2000 in the different salons
visited. We also gathered that twisting style sometimes takes more than a day
depending on the quantity, thickness of strands produced and on the quality of
the weaveon. Weavon cost N500 and above. Pat Ulebor said that imparting the
knowledge about the profession takes a minimum of one year to as long as two
years. Before we left her, she gave a word of advice to girls who are jobless
to consider embracing hairdressing as a profitable occupation. “They should not
depend on anybody. Go and learn anything your heart tells you to learn. But
don’t be idle so you don’t have to wait for a man before you feed.”         Our searchlight took us to 97, Baleke
street, where we found a young enterprising hair fashion male designer in a
female dominated industry, Chuks Owere who hails from Igbanke blaizing the
trail in the hairdressing industry. His business goes by the name, Looking Good
Beauty Salon. On why he chose a largely female occupation, he said “I came into
this industry firstly seeking for survival and secondly, I like what I am
doing. Infact I am in love with this profession. It was in Benin, Edo State it
all began where it is not unusual to see male hair stylist. Here in Ika nation,
I am the first male hairdresser to set up a business like this. Others are
however coming up. I am the only one that operate independently. When it comes
to dreadlocks, I am an expert. This I say with all sense of modesty,” he said.
When we were searching for a male hairdresser to interview, we were informed by
some  people who knew his abilities that
Chuks area of strength is dreadlocks which he also confirmed as being the
second to none. He stated further that life is always about carving a niche for
onself. “Because I try to put in my best in all I do, I am achieving results. I
call myself the hair  doctor because I
always try and be my best. There is always competition in any business you do.
So I put all my efforts for you never can tell when the star will shine. He
confessed that the challenge he is facing in a female dominated job is a big
one. “Both women and money will come to you. In all, wisdom matters. I am here
for the money and to make sure the women around me look beautiful. At the end
of the day, I don’t intend to lose my focus.” He says he does manicure,
pedicure, tattoo, eyelashes, “it’s a total package.” “Maybe by the grace of
God, I will become someone great tomorrow. Chuks and all we spoke to admitted
that the greatest impediment to their business is electricity which is a
general problem many small, medium and big businesses are contending with
particularly in Agbor and in general. We asked him what it will cost to set up
a small hairdressing shop such as his. “Depending on the locality. In Balake environ,
it will cost a minimum of N100,000 to
jump start. It is also not compulsory that you belong to an association because
when it comes to hairdressing, prices cannot be controlled. The main reason why
some trade associations are formed is to fix and regulate prices which is
almost impossible with fixing womens hair. For we attend to the low and high
class.” On his advice to fellow youths, he says there is no good thing that
comes easy. To be somebody in life, you really have to work hard. If you are
not in school, then you must use your hand to produce something so that you’ll
be able to feed yourself at the end of the day; especially we men that have
responsibilities. Finally our searchlight stopped at Stella Mozie of Stella
Beauty Salon at the CTC market who reiterated what Pat and Chuks had told us
earlier.  

            There is hardly a community here in
Ika nation that cannot boast of a hairdressing salon where weaving is the main
stay financially.

            It is also note worthy that
hairdressing salons have classifications like those who work from under trees,
varanders, small shops to big shops. For all the classes to function well,
important items such as generator, dryer, twisters, rollers, towels, combs,
washing bowls, colourings, relaxers, creams, almanacs, shampoo, mirrors,
chairs, and extras like television and video players among others are required.
The more exotic the shop the higher the cost. Hairdressers are like policemen
who must be on their feet to achieve results. Indeed is the truth that men were
made from dust, women were made from the ribs as these women exhibit
artfulness, mental adroitness and skillful cleverness in their actions. Imagine
an hairdresser standing throughout the day and still gets home to attend to the
family. They deserve our commendation as walking side by side men in nation
building. Our women hairdressers should be given all the encouragements in the
scheme of things. Every effort should be made to assist them financially by
organization who are saddled with the oversight of making sure that the girl
child is specially guided through life because of their vulnerability to
vagaries of life. All the people we interviewed exhibited high intelligence and
good speech ability which impressed us greatly. It is also high time graduates
who are languishing economically should look in this direction now that white
collar jobs are becoming extinct. Educated people of the nation of India twenty
years ago also found themselves economically and socially lacking just the way
we are today. Blue collar jobs in Ika nation and Nigeria like hairdressing is
now becoming the preserve of the enlightened. If only our young elites can read
between the economic lines that it is not business as usual and that things are
not what they used to be, will they delve into this financially rewarding
industry of human beautification. Next time maybe our men may take a second
look at how beautiful Ika women have become and give all the credit to our
hardworking hairdressers. In a lighter mood, may you also be reminded that in
case you need  hot and spicy gists, why
not pay a visit to one of such salon in your neighbourhood.      

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