Ordinarily, barbing in salons, especially in some regions, is considered an exclusive job for the male folk. However, in the seat of the Caliphate, one woman braced the odds to become the only female barber. Her name is Maryann Chison, a 25-year-old lady from Nbiteli local government area of Imo State who resides in Sokoto State. Amusingly, 98 per cent of her customers are male, including clergies and Alhaji’s among others.
She has spent many years in Sokoto where she did her Primary, Secondary and higher institution. A holder of National Diploma in Public Administration, Chison plans to go for her HND next year.
On what informed her decision to take to barbing as a vocation despite that it is considered as a job majorly for the male, especially in this part of the country, she said, “I just like it and I felt it is a unique job that many women are not into. Secondly, I felt women, especially young ones, should be enterprising and do away with this idea of depending on somebody for all their needs.
“Therefore, I just thought of doing something different and unique. So, that was what motivated me to start the business of barbing and I have been doing it very successfully for almost three years now. I learned barbing as an apprentice for about five months before I began to barb my younger ones, relatives and friends. I later went ahead to barbing my customers. But let me quickly admit that my customers encouraged me a lot”.
But is there any challenge for her, a female, barbing men’s hair? Certainly not. She said, “Yes, you know people are getting civilized every day. So, that perception of why should a female cut a male’s hair is getting faded already. Majority of my customers are even Muslims. They cut across the wealthy people, including Alhajis, pastors, Rev. Fathers among others.
They encourage me greatly and therefore I don’t find it difficult. Maybe in ten people that patronise me, it is only one that I might have issues with and whenever the person gives it a trial, he will see the difference and would always come back to my saloon again. So, I don’t have much challenge in operating a barbing saloon that cuts men hair in the Seat of the Caliphate.
But wouldn’t it have been better more convenient if Chison had gone into hair dressing for women? When confronted with this question, she said not all. Although she equally makes hair for women but it is not for commercial purposes. She only makes hair for friends friends and relatives without collecting money.
Hear her: “The challenge I have with hair dressing for women is that it is a popular job that everybody goes into. Even if you do not have a salon, you can stay in your house and make hair. But funny enough, you can spend two hours making a single female hair only to be given very little money between 1000 to 1500 at the end.
“On the alternative, I can spend 15 minutes to cut a male hair and at the end of the day, the person pays me 500 or 1000. So, there is more challenge in making a female hair than barbing a male hair”.
When asked to reveal what she makes in a day as a female barber, Chison said said it depends. “On a day that there are many customers, I barb like 20 or more hairs, and remember that, I don’t work from morning till night. I go to school and most time I open in the evening, anything from 4:00pm and stay until 11pm or so. For days that there are many customers , I barb as much as 15 to 20 people. I have a fix price, which is simply N500 per a person. Nevertheless, at times some of my benevolent customers will give me N1000 without asking for their change”, she said.
Has any customer complained about her spoiling his hair or barbing the wrong style since she started barbing? To this question, Chison said, “That was back then in 2013 when I was still not very perfect. What I do then was that, if anybody brings a difficult hairstyle, I have to take my time and follow it the way I see the style. And should I missed the style, I will politely appeal to the customer to maybe change it to low cut so that it can look better. However, I no longer face such challenge because I can cut any hairstyle now.
“Here in the North, people look much more responsible in their outfit. They do not barb those kind of crazy hairstyles that you see in the West, South or Eastern part of the country. Not that they do not barb such crazy hairstyles back here in the North but such people who barb them are very few. You mostly find such among NYSC members. But it is all fun barbing them anyway”.
The bottom line is that Chison is for most young girls in Nigeria who believe that the only way they can make quick money is to veer into age long trade, prostitution. She has an advice for young the girls out there who are not into any trade.
She said, “My advice to fellow girls out there is that they should stop the mentality of depending on people or somebody for their needs. They should simply be enterprising by looking for something that they love doing because you must love something before you can start doing it with passion and zeal. Therefore, if they find whatever they love doing, they should do it very well because as the country is now, you cannot just wait for government jobs.
“It is very, very difficult to get any government job now, especially if you are not from the ruling class or do not have any godfather to pursue your course. So, we have to encourage our girls in entrepreneurship. Yes, because when you are self-employed, it will be very easy for you to manage yourself and even help others as well as your family members. So, I am advising them that they should just look for something that they like doing with passion first.
“They should not just go into something because their friend is into it or because they want to copy what another person is doing. They should simply and honestly look for what they have the passion for and start from that little beginning. With consistency, they will make it to the top without waiting for any man”.