Male hairstylist proves a hit
. . . Zimbabwean popular among Basotho women for handiwork
TWO thin-toothed combs are the only tools Michael Mushaninga possesses to prove he is a hairstylist who is fast gaining popularity among Basotho women for his fine handicraft.
It all started when the 31-year-old Zimbabwean came to Lesotho in 2010 to explore business opportunities through selling various merchandise.
Whenever Mr Mushaninga found the time, he would braid his “home girls” for free as a form of marketing his skill.
The response was good, he says, as he soon started receiving bookings from local women.
“I soon got appointments from local ladies who had seen my work, and more calls came in over the months. I had to rearrange my timetable so I could equally cater for both the vending and braiding,” says Mr Mushaninga.
Mr Mushaninga says he is now in such high demand that on a good business day, he hardly sleeps as he attends to endless calls from his clients.
“There are at least two weeks in every month when I have back-to-back appointments.
“I braid not less than 10 people every month. The peaks are towards month-end when most people have received their salaries,” he says.
His charges range between M200 and M350 depending on the length of the braids, Mr Mushaninga said.
This is far more affordable than the M400 to M700 charged in many local salons for a similar service.
Nonetheless, Mr Mushaninga says he still makes good profit and is able to send some money back home where he supports his child, mother and uncle.
“I make at least M2000 every month from braiding hair alone. I am cheaper than other hairstylists but I make sure that my clients are happy when I am done with their heads,” says the soft-spoken hairstylist.
Mr Mushaninga says in this business, time-management is crucial when you want to keep your customers happy and coming back — something he says lacks with local hairstylists. He makes sure never to take longer than seven hours on one client.
“It is important to work as fast as you can. People don’t want to be kept in one place for a long time. You have to maintain your speed in this business.”
Mr Mushaninga adds while there are several male hairstylists in Lesotho, he is unique in that he is the only man who uses artificial hairpieces to make plaits.
“The fact that I am a male doing something that is largely associated with women gives me a certain advantage over my competitors. People want to see this man who is doing a woman’s job and they love what they see.”
His work is so impressive it is hard to believe that he once knew nothing about hair and braiding.
It was only in 2003, back in Zimbabwe, when a hairstylist friend asked him to assist her with one of her clients, Mr Mushaninga said.
“I told her I didn’t know anything about hair and styling, but she pushed me to try.
“ I practiced until I got the basics; I got better with more heads I attended.”
Now his clients come from as far as Butha-Buthe, he says.
“I am ready to travel across the country for people who might want to have their hair done by me. I am just a phone-call away,” he says shyly.
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