Ms Olatunde Omolola , a native of Ogbomosho in Oyo State and a resident in Igbogbo, the headquarters of Igbogbo/Bayeku Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Ikorodu Division, Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria, is one of the few ladies that dared to venture into Barbing , a male dominated profession. She did not only go into the profession to compete with men but also to make a mark.
According to her, she ventured into barbing to be different from other ladies and productively engage herself whenever she’s on holiday from her academics pursuit.
Omolola, who is full of life and determined to make a mark for herself in life , spoke with THE IMPACT during an interview session at Laposh barbing saloon in Igbogbo , where she works as an apprentice.
The ‘lady’ barber is an Ordinary Diploma (ND) holder in Mass Communication from the Kwara Polytechnic and recently secured an admission to study Political Science in Tai Solarin University Of Education (TASUED) , Ijebu Ode, to study Political Science. She ventured into Barbing profession in November 2018 , while she was still studying for her National Diploma in other to get herself engaged and be productive unlike most of other young ladies who rather spend their time engaging in unproductive and immoral acts.
On her own, she told her parents , whom she said are always supportive and do not impose their will on their children , that she wanted to learn barbing, though, they were hesitant initially because of the nature of the work as men dominated profession.
Omolola , thereafter , walked into Laposh, a standard and the best Barbing salon in Igbogbo , to discuss her interest in learning the trade with the owner , Mr. John Ice. At first, Laposh owner did not believe that she was serious but her insistence and commitment convinced him.
Today, Omolola combined her study with barbing work. According to her, the decision she took to learning the trade has made her independent, support her own education and also be of immense assistance to her family.
“Actually nothing really inspired me to get into barbing but I just want to be different” , she told THE IMPACT.
“All my life , I have been dreaming to be an independent lady, like becoming a boss of myself and develop the ability to support my brothers that are still in school and assist my parents. If I am to go into skills like hairdressing or tailoring, you can be rest assured that major customers would be my family members and friends and that would also means doing it for them either for free or mostly on credit, but with barbing , it’s not possible for a guy to walk into my salon and ask me to cut his hair and he would pay me the next day (laughter).
“When I told them at home that I wanted to go into barbing, my dad was like “are you okay?”. My mum was equally confused. But they both later agreed and stated that “We cannot choose for you”.
“My parents are like that, they don’t choose for their children and they always support whatever your mind goes for or whatever you determined to do but you dare not go back to them that you are no longer interested after giving you necessary supports.
“I got into barbing last year November and I have spent like seven months. The deficit is due to my time at school and home engagements.
“I just finished my Ordinary Diploma (ND) at Kwara State Polytechnic where I studied Mass Communication and now proceeding to TASUED to study Political Science though, I actually intended to study Economics”, she told THE IMPACT.
She stated that it has not been an easy task combining personal engagements, academics, home shores and learning to become a professional barber but that her boss has been very understanding.
“I have my boss (Lasposh) to thank for his understanding. He has allowed me to combine my schooling with the barbing job and also allowed me time away to attend to home and other personal shores whenever the need arises. It was because of those occasions that I had been away that made me said that I have spent seven months, if not for that, it ought to have been more.
“Although, I finished my National Diploma program last year, I have already been going to my school to process my results and also to TASUED to see to my admission.
Speaking on her plans to have a barbing shop on campus and start her own business, Lola stated:
“Yes, that’s why I came to learn barbing. I plan opening a barbing shop when I fully resume at TASUED to enable me raise some capital.
“With that, I would be able to support myself in school as I would not have to be returning home every time to ask for money.
As it is the case with anyone venturing into an area considered a-no-go-area, Lola initially faced rejection from customers but today, she has become the darling of many of them, particularly male customers most of whom would not allow any other person to cut their hair except her.
Again, her boss played a very significant role in her acceptance by the customers who are mainly men.
“At first, some men would not allow me to touch their hair on the ground that they have sensitive bodies that can easily react if they are touched by a lady. That was the number one challenge that I had and all through this challenging phase, I was fully handling children’s haircuts cut but later, they started accepting me gradually.
“Those men started accepting me to cut their hair with the help of my boss who always stand by me and assured them that I can give them good haircut despite knowing that I was still a learner.
“Most times, he would stood by me and put me through on how to cut hair for different customers. This really helped me in getting confidence.
“The whole thing has been very encouraging and fun since then”.
When asked about her future plans for her barbing profession, she revealed that she is not only planning to open a barbing shop at school in order to support her education, but also to establish it as a business later in life.
“My future plan is to open one of the best barbing salons. I may or may not be the one that would be operating the salon but definitely , I am going to have a salon where people can get nice haircuts from stylists that I would employ”.
In her message to young ladies roaming the streets and going from one club to the other and from one brothel to the other and those that are totally dependent on their parents for all their school needs , Lola advised that they should learn a skill and work towards being self dependent .
“My advice is simply to ask them to be independent. Nobody would want to be married to a liability. Men want a woman that would support them and that would be productive.
“You don’t have to depend on your parents for everything or go about using your body. You can learn any skill and use your hand work to help yourself.
“Barbing business is very encouraging and profitable but you don’t have to go into barbing like I do because there are many other skills that are equally interesting and profitable that you can take up.
She appealed to public-spirited individuals and women empowerment groups for support in the areas of equipment procurement and setting up of a salon shop to enable her establish herself in her chosen trade and be productive.
Lola stated that her plan is to open an exclusive salon to serve a class in the society.
“I am planing to have a very big salon and I want to make it exclusive because the setting of your salon would determine the kind of people that will be coming. You can see this place (Laposh) that it is very organized. If you have a good salon, good and classy people will locate you but if your place is bad, then, wrong people will be the ones patronizing you.”
She also spoke well about her colleagues at Laposh.
“Oh! , there are about eight of them and they have been very wonderful. They don’t see me as a girl or look down on me as a small girl. They don’t make me feel that I am a female. I love them. We see ourselves as family and we go to places together. A very big shout out to all of them. I love them”.
Meanwhile, John Ice, the Chief Executive Officer of Laposh Barbing Salon, speaking about Omolola, explained that he accepted to train her because she told him that she wanted to be different from other ladies out there.
“The first time she came in here and told me that she wanted to learn barbing, I said why on earth would a girl want to do that but when she stated that she wants to be different from others, I decided to give her the opportunity.
“She’s extremely good. She combines this (barbing) with her education.
“She is a kind of person that thinks outside the box and I like her for that and I decided to train her. Ever since she has been here, she has been doing very fine.
“She has been with me for almost a year and she has won over about 20 customers who would not allow any other person to cut their hair except her”.
John added that he was touched by her determination to be independent and her dedication to develop herself.
“The first she came here, I was impressed. She told me that she wanted to be different from other girls out there; she wants to be dependent on herself. She has great belief in herself and I was touched by her determination and dedication”.
He enjoined other girls to emulate Omolola.
“Other girls out there should emulate her and not just be walking round the town”.