An entrepreneur and student of Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Miss Sewuese Apuu, in an interview with The Voice Business Editor, VALENTINE VAATIA, talks about why she ventured into barbing:
When did you start barbing?
I started learning in 2014 then started working for some one in 2015 and established my own shop Hanz Cuts in 2017.
How was the business then and now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
There was more patronage, and the change in government has actually reduced things, but growing every day in the business. There are other things you will appreciate apart from the monetary aspect such as stability, peace of mind. You can actually know that when you wake up there is something for you to eat because somebody must cut hair.
So being in the business, I have developed more than looking for money and taking to other social vices. My customers have increased, when I started they had this issue of a girl will not cut my hair, but over the years, they see that I am still in it and consistent in what I am doing so they have more trust in me now and do not have issues that a girl will not cut my hair again.
What was your motivation?
I had wanted to do something different from the normal when I finished my secondary school. My people would ask me to learn how to make hair or enroll in computer lessons.
When I got admission I found the need to have time for my studies as well, so instead of making some one’s hair from morning till afternoon, I could just do a hair cut for some one and go for lectures and still come back to continue with my daily activities, so I wanted to save time and to do something unique. That’s why I chose barbing instead of the normal vocations other females do.
Talk about your patronage?
The patronage has reduced drastically because the pandemic affected barbing especially because it has to do with close contact, it is not like going to a provision store covering your nose and picking up something or going to a Banking Hall just to give the money, you have to touch the customers physically.
So some people do not feel safe, some men even buy their own clippers and still you have to sterilize it.
The patronage reduced also because, some people stopped barbing in shops to be safe until they are sure the barber has shown no sign of COVID-19 before they come to such a salon for a cut.
There was a day that there was no hair cut at all, and that is what I have not experienced since I started barbing, but it happened.
Did you obtain loan from any source to boost the business?
I did not obtain any of the loans by the government. I had a friend a youth corp, that came to serve in the state lend me money. She saw what I did not see in my self and I had no plans to own a salon but she insisted and gave me the money.
I also sold my bike and lap top, she brought seventy thousand (N70,000) then I added mine. The rent alone was a hundred thousand (N100,000), so raising that money at the time was difficult. I started with a mirror, a chair and a fan after paying the rent. The shop was too big for those properties, but over the years I began putting up things until it is the way it is today.
How would you recommend younger girls to follow your steps?
I will advice them to try it, though it is a difficult career for a female and has a lot of temptations. It needs a lot of patience, you may work in a salon for six months and may not make the money a man will offer you in a day.
However, for that patience believing that in the end you will make it and the money and distraction from men will affect your image and career, you can easily overcome their whims, knowing that those people you lose focus for will not be there forever and you may lose that which you get from them.
The challenge is youths within my age range are hardly patient to calm down to make money genuinely overtime. If you decide to do it, be patient, take your time to learn and work hard.
How do you navigate between business and school?
My school and academics have been shaky but I have been trying to make up, I have some one in the shop to barb when I am not around.
I also attend lectures when necessary not every day and I am always around on weekends except during examination.
Then I focus till the exams is over, but any other day I just mix up if I have lectures in the morning, I make sure someone is in the shop to cover me.
Let us come back home, are you married?
No, I am not married.
Do you think, your would-be husband will allow you to continue with the business?
If it gets to the stage of business or marriage then there is no marriage, because the person is coming to meet me the way I am, I do not have to start reforming, it took me years to get to where I am.
I know that I will not barb forever and when it gets to that stage I will understand.
But when you give me condition, I do not think I will be in that spot yet because I know things the I planned out.
I am looking for someone that will support me except you are bringing something better to the table.
How do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years I will go strictly into business, I am studying Agricultural extension and rural development, I wish to develop more from it apart from the salon business by establishing more salons .I feel if I graduate like I have planned already, I will set a farm, and go into agriculture full time, then I will put this as a side hobby.
That means it is rewarding
Yes it is.