HAIR salons have since time immemorial been associated with women, but that is no longer the case anymore as more and more men are getting involved in the trade.
Interestingly some men are giving female hairstylists a real run for their money.
Deep in the heart of Harare’s Glen Norah C high-density suburb, at a place commonly known as Pamasimbi, you find six talented male hairdressers calling themselves the Barca Boys.
Barca Boys comprise of Donald “Bigman” Bero, Respect “Mabhatiri” Siriro, Edmore “Baba Thiago” Msakari, Thomas “Apostle” Mitize, Masimba “Templeman” Samombe, Enerst “Vinnyu” Kamuzimbi.
The name Barca Boys was inspired by their love for the Spanish football team, FC Barcelona colloquially known as Barça that competes in the Spanish topflight league.
The passion and enthusiasm for hairdressing has no doubt financially sustained the Barca Boys.
While many Zimbabwean youths continue the unending search for employment, Barca Boys have, however, shown that patience and creativity can easily turn dust into gold ore.
At the backdrop of the country’s economic meltdown, Barca Boys have become their own bosses following their decision to venture into hairdressing.
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Just like professional accountants, doctors, teachers and many other fields, the Barca Boys take their craft seriously and this has seen their business.
Just like any business venture, they have had their own ups and downs. The Barca Boys have faced multiple challenges including being moved from their initial premise of more than 10 years to pave way for the ongoing road of the Mbudzi roundabout extending Glen Norah C.
NewsDay Weekender recently visited the Barca Boys where their journey as male hairdressers and challenges associated with the trade.
Starting the business
Our journey as hairdressers started back in 2010. Like many other youths, we were yearning for employment to no avail. We used to plait hair as a way to kill time as we were unemployed. As we continued plaiting and making hair for fun, people started noticing us and that is when we decided to take the craft seriously.
With over 10 years in the game, our salon is now very well known in Harare as “Pamasimbi panorukwa”. This has given us a means of survival in an economy where life is tough and jobs are hard to find.
The art of plaiting hair started as a hobby for us and we never went to any professional training school. It is through experience that we acquired the dully needed professionalism in the game of plaiting hair and perfecting different kinds of hairstyles.
We are all based in Harare and we have seen how competitive the market is, but our greatest strength to stay relevant in the game is teamwork.
Most clients require long-lasting hairstyles as braided hair, but when you go to other salons it will take the hairdresser at least four hours to finish, hence as from the beginning we have associated ourselves as a team that works together which cuts short the time a client has to sit down to get their hair done.
Upkeep of family
Hairdressing has undeniably sustained us since the time we started. Some of us are fathers and we have managed to take care of our families through plaiting. Our spouses at home depend on us and when we wake up in the morning, they know we are going to work just like any other men.
The business has also been sustainable because we pay our rentals for this place religiously. Even after we subtract the US$50 for rent, we still manage to take something home.
This area was initially a car park, so the owner is the one who then pays the city council the amount they require.
When it comes to other facilities as toilets, we asked one of the house owners near us for their restrooms on a negotiated deal.
FC Barcelona inspiration
Besides our salon name, we are known as the Barca Boys. We chose to adapt the theme and erect flags of the club on our salon for easy identification by our clients. Moreso, FC Barcelona Football Club is known for its excellent performance, thus as hairdressers we deliver with excellence.
Also, there was some time when salons used to mushroom around this area. So, for easy identification, each salon had to associate themselves with a football team of their choice.
This was also to ensure that our clients know that even if we are operating in a female-dominated line of business, our masculine energy of football enthusiasm is still within us.
Just like a football team, we work hand-in-hand and all our efforts contribute to flawless service to our customers.
The only difference is that footballers use their feet to expose their talent while we use our hands.
Teaching others boys
We do have young boys still pursuing their studies that we have mentored to become professional hairdressers. However, they are usually here during the holidays, but some of them report back to us that they have already started getting clients at school.
We show them the goodness of hairdressing as a profession. It is unfortunate that we lose some of them because the job needs one to get used to, otherwise you end up quitting before achieving the desired results.
For us it has been easy to stay committed because we have seen the benefits of taking the craft seriously and being patient has helped too.
Mbudzi interchange disturbances
The Mbudzi interchange project that is currently on-going has affected us to a greater extent. There used to be a time when this whole area was full of hairdressers of different age group, but when the project started some of the camps collapsed.
The construction process has reduced the number of clients that we attract because the clients now have to walk long distances to get here.
Furthermore, when the road project started, we had to shift from the roadside where we had already built a beautiful structure which was decorated with FC Barcelona football team theme colours.
When they started expanding the road we had to move to another place and make another structure although it is not up to standard.
The good thing is that we never vacated from this area and we will continue being known as Barca Boys and this has helped us to continue working and getting clients because they are used to finding us here especially our regular customers.
Assistance required from authorities
Firstly, we appeal to the authorities to work on the road project and finish it as soon as they can.
We are also pleading with well-wishers and the authorities to assist us in acquiring permanent premises for our business so that we avoid being constantly moved from one spot to another.
The area we are operating in is open to whatever social businesses people like to do. Just next to our salon is a spot where people play pool (snooker) and behind us there is someone who will be selling beers.
This will have us working in an environment where people can get drunk and sometimes start shouting profanities and this affects our customers.
So, we believe that such problems can be eradicated through acquiring better places to operate from. We will then ensure that the area is strictly set aside for hairdressing business.
Types of hairstyles on offer
We do different kinds of hairstyles including box braids, dreadlocks, knotless braids, twist braids and hair crocheting.
Our prices are slightly negotiable. We are however, limited to braids, crotchet and locks mainly, but if we get a client who brings long weaves, we work magic too.
Sharing of profits
At the end of the day, we come together and calculate all the money we would have accumulated. One of us here is responsible for the safe keep of the money throughout the day and we decide on how much to share, subtracting the rent or any other commitments that we might have for that month.
The client’s voice
The Barca Boys’s services are what keeps me coming back from as far as Waterfalls to get my hair done here. The main reason why I get my hair done by these men is because it is not time consuming.
I can get my hair done and move on to do other things on that same day. Also, when it comes to getting my hair done, I have been here for the fifth time now and I can say after they are done, you feel less pain on your scalp as compared to other hairdressers.