Just moving around Kigali, mainly in areas concentrated with beauty salons, one realizes that quite a reasonable number of men are busy plying their trade.
Women are also in the beauty industry, and they are the majority. But the increasing numbers of men currently working as beauticians or hair dressers raises the possibility that men may be taking over this occupation once known s a preserve for the ladies.
“For a long time now, I have been served by a male hair dresser and I really like the way he does it,” says one Allen who was having her hair done at a salon in down town Kigali.
Like any other good service provider, Allen says that most of her friends have inquired to know which salon she dresses her hair from.
“Of course I have linked many customers to this salon and they have too done the same to their friends, relatives and others,” she said. She is not alone; there are many other people out there who perceive things just like she does.
Some of the female hair dressers in the salon say that although it is a customer’s choice to decide who should attend to them, some women can be too petty.
“It is very easy for a female client to forgive a male hair dresser than a female hair dresser incase something wrong is done,” says a female hair dresser, who prefers to go by the name Janet.
Although she admits that there might be concerns of customer care or services delivery, she points out that under such circumstances; some ladies tend to shift to other salons or to their male counterparts.
“This also applies to male customers; they can easily forgive us than when a mistake is done by a male worker,” Janet adds.
However, she also points out that some clients just take it for granted that ladies are slow and lazy to perform or serve them in the shortest time possible.
“When people come for our services, they tend to be time bad, not giving us time to concentrate and do the best we can for them, but instead they end up complaining of our services,” she explains.
Beauty salon work is sensitive and delicate because in case of any mistake, clients are seriously affected or burnt by the cosmetics.
Those who have managed to stay in the business, testify that providing quality services and having respect for customers is key to maintaining them.
“Our work is so delicate but some people in the industry have not bothered to learn even the simplest ways to ask for forgiveness even when they realize their mistakes,” notes Alex Muntu, owner of ‘Look Beautiful Beauty’ salon in Remera.
He notes that female hair dressers do not easily accept their mistakes and this eventually leads to locking horns with their clients.
“The reason why a customer decides to forego all other businesses and comes to a specific beauty parlor, is that she has confidence in the service provider; therefore it is equally possible for that client to listen and consider an apology in case of a mistake,” Explains Muntu.
However, contrary to his views, having been in the beauty salon industry for over 5 years, Alphonsine Niyigena, an investor in the industry says that salon work should be done with perfection.
“There is no way our profession will be valued and accorded the respect it deserves when we can not operate as professionals,” she says.
Niyigene who owns a number of beauty salons in Kigali is also the CEO of Universal Beauty Academy (UBA) that operates in Kimironko Sector of Gasabo district.
The Academy accommodate 360 students in shifts, offering courses including hair dressing and beauty therapy, accountancy and stock management and computer training in salon management.
She also calls on the public especially the youth, male or female, to take on the profession saying that there is ready market for highly skilled labour in the industry.