PAYING WITH AFRICAN PRICE
This is quite an intriguing and thought provoking topic. If you have been following this blog, you would have read our last blog on a topic featuring – IS THE BLACK RACE AN ANTI-BUSINESS COMMUNITY? To add to my curiosity and confusion, I get this interesting hair enquiry call from a prospective client.
Phone rings and I answer the call. We get chatting. The gist of our enquiry goes. “I will like to have my hair done” asked the caller. “What style would you like done” I enquired. “I want the micro braids done. Do you offer this service?” So our conversation continued. On further questioning and consultation, it turned out she had done this style elsewhere but she was not satisfied with the result. She had only worn the style for two weeks and it was beginning to unravel and come out so this was making her feel self-conscious about her hairstyle and her image. She had then taken it upon herself to do some research on the internet to find out who could give her a better hairstyle. She now was calling us because her research had told her that we are the experts & specialist at designing natural hairstyles. So I confirmed to her that we could give her the best hairstyle she desires but there is a price to pay for our expertise.
This is where our discussion focused. She asked for our price which I gave to her after our detailed consultation. She then explained,“I live in Hackney and I know there are lots of places that can offer this service but they do not advertise. So when I saw your website I thought you could help me.” “In what way did you think I could help you.” I asked. “Well I know there are lots of high profile salons in West London but I am looking for a salon that will let me pay with African Price.”
At this stage, I was confused. “What is African price? I queried. On further interrogation, she explained that her meaning of African price is a salon that will offer her prefect hairstyle but charges very cheap price.
This lady wanted the best quality professional service that she will be proud of, take to work, look good around her friends, feel confident with high self-esteem but repay the service with very cheap money. Cheap price equates to African price.
This is where I continue to query the African and Black mentality. In my years of working with hair especially working with natural hairstyles, I have been asked to explain how I decide my price by some enquiries. They have often queried me with such comments as “is it not only braiding?” When I queried this person if she could braid, she said no. I have been told that braiding & natural hair service does not require booking appointments or paying a deposit to reserve a place for their hair service etc etc. But asking for African price finally topped the weird and awkward questions I have been asked and further confused my understanding of the African mentality to business. These people have no idea what running a business means let alone running a professional business.
I have heard about the antics of the so-called African priced hairdressers /stylist. These people get into the industry without education or training. These are sometimes illegal immigrants who have no right to work in the country etc and decide to take on the next easily available thing. They do not pay tax or have any recourse to the system. These people have no idea what a strand of hair is, how it grows and how it gets damaged. These people only occasionally know how to offer a skill but have no knowledge about customer care, health & safety, etc hence there are tons and tons of complaints about their activities which has put the industry in disrepute. Everyone who has no job or dream about a future without training or education runs into hairdressing because they feel there is no entry requirement. They dabble into applying chemicals on clients without understanding the contents of relaxers and the effects of chemicals on the hair and scalp. They continuously cause unimaginable damage – ranging from complete hair loss, chemical burns, scabs, patchy scalp, headaches, bleeding etc. Considering the fact that they have not taken any training, they have nothing to lose when they cause irreparable accidents as the salon owner takes the rap from the distressed clients or in some instances when the salon is taken to Court. There are no standards in the Black hair industry and this is why Black women have the most damaged hair among all the races.
While the young untrained ignorant girl gets into the industry by mistake, my concern usually goes to the clients. These are mostly professional women who should know to treat their body better. They willingly sit in unkempt grotty salons; watch the stylist eat disgustingly smelling food over their head; watch the stylist argue, quarrel and physically fight with their colleagues holding a scissors over their heads; allow these stylist to pour water and apply shampoo on their hair; ignore them in a corner while they attend to many other clients etc. These women will sit quietly without complaining or questioning what is going on. Why do well educated women allow this to happen? They take on the insult and verbal abuse because they do not want to pay good money to be served in a professional salon. They want to pay African price.
When will Africans respect the person with a skill? When do Africans appreciate the fact that skills are what encourages entrepreneurship and make the world go round? Fact is, a well-trained hairdresser has undertaken professional training through months and years of education. She has invested money to better her knowledge on how to protect, groom, grow and support her client’s hair. Your hairdresser is your hair doctor. She knows what your hair needs and has solutions to resolve it. She is creative, has passion for her skill and is happy to please her clients so they stay loyal and keep coming back to her. She is running a business that she chose because she has something to offer her community. She has love and passion for women looking glamorous so they feel confident to be the best at what they do. She understands that we cannot all take on the same careers, so hair is her calling and she is happy to do it to her best ability. She has chosen her profession and is running a business which has to grow. She is standing behind clients all day, puts in very long hours inconveniencing herself and her family and most of the time to the detriment of her own health. She has responsibilities, a family to feed, rent to pay, bills to cover – electricity, water, materials, keeping her salon safe, clean and welcoming, put fuel in her car / transport herself to work, salaries to pay etc. When a stylist charges a price, she has to cover her expenses just as you go to work and get paid to cover your expenses.
My continuous query then becomes why is the African society anti-skill/ entrepreneurship? It was not like this with our ancestors but the modern day Africans are well known for the high propensity to consume rather than to produce. Anyone who then produces is seen as low class, second class citizen, sneered at and called derogatory names. This is why a richly blessed continent that we have has now been turned into raw material basket to every other continent and race but the Africans themselves. This is why we leave our richly endowed continent and chase everywhere else in search of green pastures without realising that we have everything everyone is looking for. Generally an African child is brought up to mentally think of working in an office for someone else. Who is going to set up this business for us to come and work for them? Who is going to provide work for our children and generations unborn if we don’t change our ways? The continuous run from the village with all its potentials chasing the city and its white collar high paid job should stop. If there is anything the economic recession has taught us, it is to start creating our own jobs as there are no jobs waiting to be picked up.
When the African woman has money, she goes on a spending spree – clothes, gold jewelry; designer shoes, bag to wear to the latest party in town; make up so she looks her best at the party; she wants her skin to glow so she does not mind how much money goes into her skin care, perfumes etc, She will buy the most expensive 22 inches and over hair extensions – Indian hair lace front wig, Brazilian hair, Mongoloid hair, Peruvian hair, Eurasian hair etc at very exorbitant prices but when it is time to pay for the service of getting the hair done, then the stylist does not count in her spending spree. This is when she suddenly gets wise and realises she has not got money. The reason she will not pay good money for the hair service is because she sees the hairdresser and stylist as a skill that is of no of value. To her the hairdresser is an illiterate, uneducated, unimportant person in the society and so should be paid ridiculous money. My conclusion is – I have no sympathy for a client that is not willing to pay good money for a good service. Such clients should live with the outcome they get when their hair gets damaged and also when they lose their hair in process. There is a saying “when you pay peanuts, you get monkies”
According to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) “Africa’s economic growth is creating substantial new business opportunities that are often overlooked by global companies… Today the rate of return on foreign investment in Africa is higher than in any other developing region.” The sooner Africans start accepting that skill based careers are as good as any office based job, the sooner we will have a better society that provides good service and mutual respect for everyone. Hairdressers & Braiders spend hours making their clients look beautiful, presentable and confident. Learn to give them respect and stop demanding African price.
If you have been affected by anything in this article, have similar experience, would like to add or contribute to our discussion, please add your comment here.
ABOUT JOY PHIDO
Joy Phido (SRH)
Natural Hair & Extensions Specialist, Consultant, Designer, Educator
Entrepreneur, Speaker, Business Coach/ Adviser, Mentor, Author
BSc Hons – Business Management, NVQ Level 3 Hairdressing,
City & Guilds Level 3 – Teaching, ILEX Level 2 – Legal Secretary
Diploma – Hair Weaving, Certificates in Natural Hair & Extensions,
Before going into hair business, Joy has had years of various career experiences with varied organizations including Corporate Nigeria, Lagos city banking career, to Corporate England, London city telecomms career. Joy’s mission is to design, grow and glamorise natural hair as well as help ordinary women gain financial freedom with employment or set up micro businesses.
Joy is available to speak at your next event. Please call to book.
World of Braiding is World’s No 1 PROFESSIONALLY ACCREDITED NATURAL HAIR & EXTENSIONS ACADEMY.
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