It never ceases to amaze many what drives men to be in the beauty business. In the past, women ruled the beauty industry but today, the men seem to have taken over the business, filling up almost every beauty shop. Surprisingly, the ladies seem to be enjoying the masculine touch.
A plethora of male stylists now exist in Nigeria's beauty world. One of the male stylists, RafFache, the CEO and chief stylist of Raf Salon, in Wuse Shopping Mall who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend, shared his story on how it all started.
"While awaiting my IGMB results in 1992, I got employed into a unisex salon as a barber. I stayed there for one month after being made the manager of the salon but decided to resign because I saw the creativity in styling ladies hair which was the opposite to giving haircuts which is monotonous. I resigned and went to learn hairstyling properly" Raf revealed.
Aside from the creativity in female hair styling, another challenge for Raf was the fact that he knew he could be different, even though he had never seen a male stylist.
"As at 1993, I had never seen a man make a lady's hair, but what inspired me aside from the creative nature of styling women's hair, was the fact that a man and a woman have the same 10 fingers. So I said to myself, "if a woman can do it with her fingers, a man can do it too" Raf said.
Starting with styles such as weaving, Raf got creative and moved on in the learning process. He had a good rapport with ladies and always inquired where they got their hair styled. "I know how to initiate a conversation with the ladies, so I always inquired about their hair styles and their stylists when I saw what I liked. They would usually tell me they got their hair fixed at 'See me laugh salon' so I went there for a 3-month training programme and left when I gained admission into the University of Jos", he attested.
What did his family and friends feel about his career choice after graduating from the university?
Raf says it was hard for people to understand why he would go into hair styling. "My father cried when he found out I had chosen to be a hair stylist. Some people would stare at me until they missed a step or two; in fact, a guy fell into the gutter once while he watched me. No one believed in my dream but that did not bother me because I wasn't at the mercy of anyone" Raf said confidently.
Raf enjoys his job, he is diverse with hairstyles and treasures his hand dryer as that is his favorite working tool. He says the business is a very lucrative one but the competition is tough nowadays as many men have ventured into it. He sees himself bringing many more hair and beauty companies together under one roof in order to encourage re-union and enable learning.
"In order to promote the industry, The Nigerian Hair and Beauty Show which holds annually has been my contribution to the world of beauty for about four years and running" Raf concluded.
Another male beautician, Moses Uwadiale, who has been doing ladies manicure, pedicure and facials for 8 years, says he fell in love with the beauty world many years ago. He feels ladies appreciate the men more because they believe men are capable of delivering on the job.
"Ladies prefer guys in this business because they feel the guys can give them exactly what they want exactly", Moses said.
Do people perceive themas queer because of their chosen profession? Moses says it all depends on the individual.
"I have heard that some of my colleagues are gay but I think it's a personal thing and has nothing to do with the nature of the job."
Bernard Ameti, partly Ghanaian and Liberian, decided to carve his niche in Nigeria. He loves seeing ladies look beautiful and attributes that to his drive for going into the business. He says that despite the fact that people kept talking when he started, it did not distract him. "My mum was a hair stylist and I spent most of my free time in her salon so I got all the support from my family. All through my years in LASPOTECH, I worked part-time as a stylist. I just love hair" Bernard revealed.
On the other side, Amina, who has been a stylist for 4 years says she doesn't feel threatened by her male colleagues, instead she enjoys working with them " I am not scared of the men in the business, instead their presence has made me learn more on the job" Amina said.
Miss Chidiebere who has spent 11 years in the beauty business shares a similar view. She believes one should excel at whatever they are good at doing and not become threatened by male colleagues.
"If styling hair would keep men off the streets then I would gladly welcome more men into the business" she said.