I hate when male clients harass me

Friday December 1 2017

Margaret Ng’ang’a, 23 is a barber at Beauty

Margaret Ng’ang’a, 23 is a barber at Beauty Point Barbershop in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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“My mother is a teacher. Watching her battle with the challenges of her career drove me in the opposite direction. Back then, teaching was a lucrative, stable career. But I also saw how mundane most days were. I wanted to do something different, something more exciting, so I found myself studying beauty in college.

“My beauty career was short. I learnt quickly that (the market is saturated with) beauticians and that I enjoyed cutting hair more. This is what I have been doing for the last year. I am up at dawn every morning so that I can be at work early enough for the morning shift, to tend to men and women who need to have their hair ready to before the start of their day.

“Most of my clients are male. Compared to my days as a beautician, male clients are much easier to deal with. Most of them know exactly what they want and they do not make too much fuss about it. The younger ones often bring in images of the cuts they want. I particularly enjoy these because most of them are new challenges. I think this is the only way for someone practicing an art like mine to get better.

“Some days are bad too. Sometimes a man will walk into my shop with more than a haircut and exfoliation on his mind. I think these are men who have heard many bad things about massage parlours in the city. This used to frighten me in the beginning but now it enrages me. I am a young woman working hard to get ahead of the pack in my career. I want to be taken seriously. No matter how upset I am feeling about a client’s unwanted advances, I have learnt to calmly but firmly ask them to leave. I live for the day when everyone who walks into my shop sees me as a professional. I feel so let down when I see a female barber hook up with a client. I think that it is acts like these that are holding all of us back.

“When I am not shaving hair, I act. I just finished filming a vernacular television advert. I hope that eventually, when I have my own barber shop and a little more time on my hands, I will be able to comfortably feed both my passions.

“I make sure to spend some time online everyday too. I watch videos and follow tutorials on YouTube on new things in my trade. I know that the only way to stay at the front is to keep learning so I do not stop.

“Before I turn in every night, I say a prayer that one morning we will get up and all the hate that is in the hearts of the people in this country will be gone.”