Times are changing and roles are also changing. Men now do what was known to be women’s job. JULIET KUYET BULUS in this report looks at male hair stylists
Bayo Tariah is a happy man. He is happy because at a time when his colleagues are roaming the streets in search of non-existent jobs, he is making an average of N5000 daily making women look good.
The 26 year old hair stylist, is in a trade most men would not normally go into because it is considered a woman’s job. But for Bayo, things have changed. “It is no longer those days when people select jobs,” he said questioning the claim that hair dressing is an exclusive preserve for women. “I know many young men who are into hair styling. In fact men are almost taking over because the women even prefer male stylists to women.”
He joined the trade in 2014 after a three month’s training. In his own case, he has always admired females who made hair even as a child. “I am a very creative person and that is helping me today,” he said, adding, “I have many clients who come from far places just to patronize me.”
Speaking proudly of himself he said he is good at his work, though customers should be willing to spend a little more to look good as looking good, according to him, is good business. He also noted that despite the challenges of insults from colleagues who call him all sorts of names, snub by prospective customers and complaints from customers appealing that he changes his business location due to distance, hair styling is good business.
Today Bayo is not just into hair styling, but piercing of the body (tattoo), haircuts as well as body massage but insists hairstyling is his basic skill and he looks forward to expanding the business.
Just like Bayo, Elijah Gusanu who is referred to as star boy by colleagues and customers, is also a hair stylist. The 28 years old man ventured into the trade after a year of intense training in braids, wigs, haircuts and all types of fixing. He concentrates on the females because they pay more money.
Elijah says he makes cool cash from his trade and hopes to expand into other forms of beauty care. He says he does not see anything wrong with a man being a hair stylist. According to him, “These days, anybody can do anything so long as you can make a living from it. What is feminine in hair styling? It is about creativity. It is like tailoring, making both male and female clothes. Haven’t you seen women driving taxi or okada? But those are initially thought to be only for men. The world has changed, anybody can do anything.”
For Omitunde Oluwakayode Emmanuel, a serious looking gentleman “man must survive’.
The 31 years old hair stylist who at present does not have a shop of his own, has chosen to do home service and when he is not in a customer’s home, works at Apo with a group of friends as he looks forward to getting a place of his own.
He says hairstyling is his way of putting a smile on the faces of his customers. “I always feel happy when I finish my work and I see my customer smiling and admiring her hair in a mirror,” he said, adding, “For me that is even more important than the money they pay me.”
Kayode who learnt the trade in just four months, now does virtually everything-easy cut, long hair, pedicure, short style, rihanna, 350, frontals, wigs, eye brows and lashes.
He told this reporter that creativity is key to excel in the trade. And he hopes that someday he would become an international hairstylist. “I always feel fulfilled whenever I attend an event and ladies are introducing me as the stylist that made their hair.”
He said of course the job comes with its challenges such as impatience from some of the customers as well as competition from other hairstylists. “I have learnt to be patient. You know customers are king. As for competition, my work speaks for me. I don’t drag customers with anyone, they come to me,” he said.
John Terry who owns a shop at the popular Wuse market in Abuja says the business is good and sees nothing wrong in a male being a hairstylist.
According to him, “Whatever a woman can do, a man can do better. In fact we are doing it better than women that is why most of the women come to us.
“I learnt the trade. I spent a year and six months learning it and now I can do any style you can think of. I have been in the business since 2009.”
John is specialized in fixing all kinds of weavons and wigs, nails, eye lash and pedicure. His carriage, friendly nature and attention to concerns raised by customers makes him the ideal hairstylist to patronise.
“You have to be friendly and of course patient, otherwise you can’t do this business. You also need to watch your charges, if you charge too high, you drive your customers. To the glory of God, I make enough money to take care of my family and invest in other businesses.”
Ajishola Babatunde Olamide, a 28 year old hair stylist, was almost dissuaded from going into the trade by his father who felt hair styling is a woman’s job. The consolation for his father is that while he is doing hair styling, he is also learning another skill which in the eyes of his father is ‘befitting’ a man. So today, Ajishola is undergoing a training in cinematography using the proceeds from his hair styling business.
He said he got the inspiration for the trade from his mum whose hair he used to practice braiding and fixing when he was younger.
With that background, six months training was enough time for him to become a professional in the trade.
For the ladies who patronize these men, they have found them not only competent on the job, but also gentle and caring.
Shantel White is one of Bayo’s customers, displaying her new ‘shut up and drive’ hairstyle made by Bayo, she said she came all the way from Jabi to Wuse a practice she had maintained for over a year just to patronise him.
“A friend recommended him to me,” she said. “Yes there are shops and home services around where I live, but Bayo is a specialist. He gives me what I want. But he is expensive.”
She said male hair stylists are preferable because there are certain hair styles male stylists make better as they are very patient.
For Gloria Omite, who was seen wearing a fluffy/bouncy kingky bulb look made by Elijah, the journey from Karu where she lives to Utako was worth it. According to her, “The attraction is in his finishing, they are always on point. Besides that, male stylist to me have manners, they are friendlier compared to the females.
Osemeke Febe’s search for a hairstylist came to an end when she ran into John’s shop three years ago. The fair in complexion, 26 year old accountant who lives in Wuse2, said she came to that conclusion because John is active, good at what he does, his service delivery is impeccable as he goes as far as offering soft drinks to customers, and above all, his prices are flexible.
Anita Jacob’s attraction to male hair stylists, is that they pay attention to details and do neat job. “Apart from that some of them recommend to you the hair style that fits your face.”
Displaying her new gold colour bulb with a mixture of black, made for her by Olamide, she says, “Like this one. This guy has been my stylist for the past five year.”
There was also the issue of whether or not male hair stylists are gay. To this all the male interviews unanimously said is not true. According to them, there is no correlation between dressing a lady’s hair and being a gay. “The question should have been whether we are womanisers?”Olamide corrected.
Even on that he said it does not obtain. “That you are touching a woman’s hair does not mean you can go out with her. If that is the case, how many woman will you go out with?”
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