My name is Bilkis Fasanya from Epe Local Government, Lagos State. I am from a family of six and the second to the last child. When I was 16, a man who owned a barbing shop close to our house in Lagos always asked me ‘Bili, can you please stay in my shop?’ whenever he wanted to go out. Whenever he was not around, customers came asking to have their hair cut and so I decided to try my hand at it and cut the customers’ hair. That was how it all started. When I finished school, I decided to learn a hand craft instead of looking for work, so I didn’t have to depend on anybody.
I met an experienced barber and spoke with him about learning how to cut hair and become a professional. I wanted to be different from other ladies and do want men could do. I started learning how to cut hair by first learning how to shave the beard and from there I picked up on how to cut the hair. I decided to learn this hand craft instead of waiting for a job that wasn’t forthcoming. Now, this job gives me satisfaction and I am happy to be a barber.
Being in the midst of men and cutting hair is not easy. There are lots of challenges, like when some men come in to have their hair cut, but refuse a female barber cutting their hair. Some men come to cut their hair and make nasty comments, but because of what you aspire to achieve, you have to ignore the comments. Also there is a lot of discrimination when the male customers come to cut hair, they ask why a female barber in a man’s salon and why not in the female salon. As a female barber you have to convince the male customers that you can do what the male barber does, if not better because there are also men who are professionals in making and styling female hair.
I believe that all women should not go into the regular female business, so I decided to challenge the men and see if I am going to make it. Cutting this man’s hair right now makes me feel so great and being a female barber has some pecks too. Some male customers come in with encouraging words asking that the female barber should cut their hair, while some refuse me cutting their hair. All I do is try to convince them and ask them to give me a chance to prove that I am good at what I do. Most of them are impressed after the service rendered and ask that I cut their hair the next time the visit the salon.
There are also some difficult male customers who after cutting their hair, still complain when the hair cut is well done. Some customers even say things we don’t like, but we take all things in good faith and move forward.
There are ladies who prefer getting money from men instead of working but instead of doing that it is advisable to get a handicraft. You don’t have to wait for anybody before you do things on your own. I work and so I do not depend on anyone to give me money to buy things that I need for myself. There are lots of hand crafts i.e. cutting of hair, hair stylists, nail technician etc. There are lots of things out there that you can do to make money for yourself.