If I was compiling a list of reasons that I’m not Nigerian, one would be Because my hair rarely looks on point. Nigerian women (and I’m not saying only Nigerian women) care about their physical appearance and their hair is a large part of the equation. They spend time on it, looking into the best products and hairstyles. Many change their hair style often.
Me? I relax my hair, and my scalp suffers. My hair care regimen is better than it used to be but still not perfect. I still sleep without a hair covering quite often. I need some silk scarves and my hair needs more moisture.
I was going to share pictures of my hair but I’m too embarrassed. Maybe I’ll get over that by the end of the entry, but I’d like to think that one or two of you have this idea of me as this polished, well put-together person (not even close to being true!) and I’m not sure I’m ready to shatter it.
Getting your hair done here is expensive if you go to a salon. I’ve never used the relaxer kits myself (my mom used to do it for me) and to be honest I love the idea of someone else working on my hair because having to wash and condition it is trouble enough (I know, poor me right?). The least expensive salon I can go to charges $68.25 to relax my hair. The other place I go to charges $79, and once last year, I paid $95 (please don’t judge me; it was painful to pay it), because I was hoping this more expensive place wouldn’t lead to a burned scalp (it did, but my hair had never looked better).
The lady I usually go to (Madame $68.25) is a usually pleasant, Ghanaian lady, but some of her business practices frustrate me:
The lack of organization
I never go to her salon without making an appointment; however, I think my sister and I are the only ones who bother to do this. Everyone else shows up willy-nilly, some waiting for hours (my sister waited for two hours once and she HAD an appointment!). They just camp there waiting. Iâ€™ll waltz in on time for my appointment and usually sheâ€™ll leave the person whose hair sheâ€™s doing and tend to me within 20 minutes because I always give her the â€œI booked an appointmentâ€ look. Inevitably, some of the people waiting will realize their day is half over and leave.
She needs to run her business so that clients are made aware that they have to book an apointment, and she needs to get an appointment book and keep it up to date. She should know it well so that when someone drops in, sans appointment, she can tell them that she has x amount of time available and that when the person who scheduled an appointment comes in, she’ll have to stop their hair and tend to that person. This way nobodyâ€™s time is wasted. She also needs to give better estimates of how long people have to wait because I’ve observed she’ll say 45 minutes when it’s really 2 hours.
Her phone skills
If the phone rings, she never hesitates to answer it and start talking, often animatedly, while continuing with my hair. Iâ€™m not sure why I find this so irritating, but I guess I find it hard to relax when sheâ€™s excitedly talking in an elevated tone of voice right over my head. I find it rude. Itâ€™s business time, not personal time, so I feel she should be focused on client calls.
She needs some sort of secretary/receptionist, who can answer questions about the hair products for sale, help a client send money to their relative/friend (she has a Western Union thing in her salon), and help customers whoâ€™ve just had their hair done pay for their ‘do, so she can focus fully on her current client. I understand that she may not want to spend the money on this, so what about a good voicemail system that she checks regularly, or maybe one of her kids, who are often underfoot, could do this. I think theyâ€™d learn a lot about dealing with people and gain some disclipline too if she had them answering the phone professionally, and doing small chores around the place. Instead the younger girl, who is undeniably cute and very personable, has grown spoiled (I’ve been going there for a while) and very used to getting her way. She expects clients to think sheâ€™s cute and coddle her when sometimes? You just want your hair to get done, pay for it, and get on with your day. You can tell sheâ€™s used to being adored and complimented by the older clients and just lives for it. Now that she’s at least 10 years old, the act is getting old.
Not making the client feel special
If someone comes in to buy hair products (which she also sells), or if the guy who cuts hair finishes with a client who needs to pay, sheâ€™ll leave your hair to go handle the transaction. Sometimes the customer has questions or needs guidance, so this isnâ€™t always a simple and quick exchange of money. I sympathize with the fact that she doesnâ€™t know this until sheâ€™s left my hair but itâ€™s very annoying and adds extra time to my appointment. She never says “excuse me; I need to go ring in this sale”; she just leaves. And when things are running long due to questions, she never calls back to me that she’ll be right back. That is rudeness. And if someone should decide they need to send money to their cousin abroad via WU, sheâ€™s off again, leaving me rolling my eyes and sighing inwardly.
But I’ve dealt with these things for many years, complaining about it to anyone who’ll listen and to my sister, so that’s ok. But I’m tired. About a month ago, my sister went to do her hair. She said the hairdresser “hacked her hair”: usually she asks if you want a trim to remove the dead ends. My sister said she just wanted the dead ends off but she got her hair chopped and it really did. She lost way too many inches for it to be called a “trim”. Our hair barely grows so she was not happy.
Three days later I went to my appointment. I was kept waiting, I was forgotten and she really didn’t seem to care about what she was doing. My sister she felt the same way during her earlier appointment. Maybe she’s stressed or going through something.
When it was time for my trim, she cut my hair unevenly! I didn’t notice it but the next day at work, a colleague asked if I was rocking an asymmetrical style! I went to the bathroom and tried to see if maybe it was just the off-centre part affecting the length but it wasn’t: there is at least a inch of difference in length! I contemplated going back to get her to even it out but you know what would happen: she’ll trim a little off the left to even it with the right and suddenly the left will be too short. Then she’ll trim a bit off the right to match the left and before I know it I’m bald, and 25 years of growing my hair will be gone, just like that.
So, finally, I’m shopping for a new salon. One recently opened in my parents’ neighbourhood, but I’m going to do what some of my oyinbo friends do: I’ll meet with the hairdresser and make sure she knows my personal hair issues and what my hair goals are. Something about the way this new place is organized gives me hope that she’ll be that kind of hairdresser: the forever kind. I just hope she’s not too expensive!
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