Alex Martin Mugo, 27 years old Kenyan national, is a cosmetologist at Hairworks hair care based at the city centre. After pursuing a Diploma in Cosmetology for one year at Unity School of Hair design and beauty, he landed a job at the same place as a hair designer and tutor. After two years, he joined Josey Hair Care where he worked for one year then quit and opened his own hair care centre in collaboration with his colleagues. The African Executive caught up with him and he shared his experiences.
Q. Tell me about hair care industry
A. This is an industry where one has to handle clients with utmost care. If you mess up one client, you lose several clients as the disappointed customer will influence the rest against the centre. I always make sure I offer the best service to my clients hence I have a good relationship with them.
Q. What challenges do you face?
A. One cannot satisfy every client. A client may come late but expect to be given preferential treatment. When I ask them to follow the queue some get annoyed. I have no option but to let them know that there is a queue as serving them first will upset the rest.
Q. Do you operate any other business?
A. Yes, other than this hair care centre I have opened another one at Umoja estate. I have employed people who manage the salon on my behalf. I visit it twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Q. Isn’t hair care a preserve for women?
A. Not really. Most people have realized it is providing employment and have resorted to invest in it. In the past, hair care was taken as a preserve for women but now things have changed. Men have ventured into the industry. In fact if you walk into any salon in town, you will not fail to see men treating people’s hair and doing manicure and pedicure. Nowadays ladies prefer men to treat their hair. In Uganda ladies flock to men’s shops for manicure and pedicure. Again with many products in the market coming up each day, this shows many people are having confidence in the industry.
Q. Are some chemicals dangerous?
A. Yes, when you visit a hair care centre the cosmetologist should advice you accordingly depending on your kind of hair and skin. There are cases of people’s heads getting burnt by chemicals and some even losing their hair because of using wrong chemicals. Customers should also make an effort of getting to know what chemicals can best suit them.
Q. You hold a Golden Scissors Award. What is it about?
A. It is a premier black hair skill competition which was introduced by Soft and Sheen Cursor from South Africa. Interested persons send portfolios to them for selection, after which they select ten people from each country. This is followed by a skills exhibition where individuals display the skills they have in the individual countries. Two people are then selected and compete at the regional level. Regional winners then compete and the overall winner gets the award. I have participated up to the second stage for two years consecutively. My colleague, Raphael, emerged a winner.
Q. Who is your mentor?
A. Raphael, I have always wanted to get to where he is, and when I finally joined him in Josey hair care, I felt I had achieved one of my goals. I also admire my career Director, Juvenaries, who keeps on encouraging me.
Q. How many clients do you attend to in a day?
A. Around 10-20 clients in a day.
Q. How much do you need to open a hair care centre?
A. This depends on the location of the business. In town, this will be expensive as one may require up to Ksh.80,000 due to the high cost of rent, but on the outskirts of Nairobi with Ksh. 20,000 one can open a hair care centre.
Q. Which are your busiest days?
A. Fridays and Saturdays. This is because it is a weekend and more so many functions such as weddings take place on these days.
Q. Do you have peak seasons? Explain
A. Yes, December because most weddings take place this month.
Q. Do you offer any special services?
A. I do this on request. If a client is wedding, she may request me to style her hair that morning of her wedding day. In such cases one has to go to the bride’s home.
Q. When is it loss to you?
A. When we provide services on credit as some clients never get to pay. Again, some clients expect to look good at a cheap price forgetting that we invest so much time attending to them.
Q. Any advice to the customers?
A. Customers should always go for quality. Some go to people who are not professionals hence spoiling their hair. On the other hand it is advisable that customers only use products that the cosmetologist or hair designer has advised.
Q. What is the future of this industry?
A. The fact that people are taking this as a career of choice unlike earlier on, where people believed that one did not require any training shows that the future of this industry is very bright. Developed countries offer degrees in cosmetology; I hope that some universities in Kenya do the same soon. At the same time the government should consider funding stakeholders in this industry.
Q. Any advice to investors in this industry?
A. Employers should ensure everyone who works for them has undergone proper training secondly; people in this field should consider opening their own SACCO’s to strengthen their own working body.