By Lolade Odeyemi |
Ever since hair styling business took a more professional outlook, entailing more technicality and high creativity, we’ve noticed that men are increasingly flooding the trade. Literally, as of today, one can barely keep count of the numerous salons owned by professional male stylists. Interestingly, a large number of well-known successful salons are run by these male stylists, who have groomed themselves and acquired the required expertise to create their own trademark in the industry and, perhaps, dominate the scene.
Having men in a profession stereotyped for women is not new. However, finding a man in the business of hairstyling used to be rare, especially in Nigeria. Such men were, before now, regarded as somewhat effeminate. In fact, it used to border on oddity to find a man attending to the beauty needs of a woman when he could have been involved in some more masculine vocations; just the same way it was to find women enlisting as mechanics or carpenters.
But the times have changed. In today’s Nigeria, folks are proving that there really is no trade or vocation that is gender restrictive, except for cases where such profession is physically demanding and strenuous. As boundaries and barriers are evaporating into thin air all over the world, people are making a living from any desired profession or hobby, in spite of age-long restrictions that could have otherwise barred them. Consequently, we find that many of the men who have found their way into the hairstyling business seem to making it big.
For some reason, it even seems like some female folk are beginning to prefer the male touch when it comes to their hair needs and, with the passing of time, more and more talented and zealous men are flooding the hairstyling business, getting recognized for what they do and becoming the preferred choice of many clients. It is easy to look around today and find daring male hairstylists taking charge of fashion shows, red carpet events, weddings and several other high profile occasions.
Unequivocally, as hairstyling grows to be more and more in sync with the entertainment industry, more and more of these highly skilled male hairstylists are becoming an intrinsic part of the branding process of individual celebs, both male and female, who seek distinct styles to define their personality.
More so, the skills of the stylists are determining factors of the price tag attached to their services, thereby making competition even stiffer, as these stylists scurry to improve on their skills in order to be rated as the most sought after in the business. This has, however, aided the growth of the sector, as more professional stylists emerge on the regular, meeting the various needs of clients who hunt for the best stylists around to give them value for their money.
The present trend brings to mind a certain time in the hairstyling arena when men gradually started trickling into the profession to stand in women’s shoes, so to say. Back then, when the craze of ‘Cotonou braids’ swept through the land, ladies from Nigeria would cross the borders to neighboring Benin Republic and pay a lot of money to get their hair braided by guys, then known as ‘Cotonou Boys’, who specialized in braids. It seemed so exciting having men braid their hair so neatly and beautifully.
However, with the influx of more Nigerian women into Benin Republic to get their hair done, these male stylists started streaming into the country to tap into the potential blossoming hair styling market in Nigeria. As a result, Nigerian male stylists improved on their braiding skills and began to offer the same services as the Cotounou Boys to wrest back dominance of the business from the expatriates, and luckily they did.
Nevertheless, with evolving trends, braids no longer seemed to be the ‘in thing’ as new styles of weaves began to surface on the scene, especially with the emergence of ‘Human hair’ weaves and short weaves adapted from the international scene. Hence, more of the male stylists began to focus more on offering exclusive weave services to numerous clients. Although fixing weaves became an arena where more of their creativity was expressed, other forms of hairstyles remained part of their numerous offerings. Today, these male stylists have become key players in the hairstyling industry.
Consequently, doors of opportunities in this business are constantly opening up, following the endless beauty needs of the female and male folks alike, and Nigeria’s increasing youthful population. It is thus crystal clear that, as vogue continues to improve, it is easier for the male stylists to penetrate the scene. Perhaps, it is even proving to be easier for these men to attract clientele, as women are always curious to find out what the male stylists have to offer and, believe it or not, they have so far proven their strength in this field, making hairstyling seem as though it was originally meant for the male folks.