Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
For the 23-year-old, Funmi Oseni, an HND 11 Mass Communications student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State, life has not been a bed of roses. Growing up has also taught her a lesson, that struggling to make it in life is not a tea party, hence, her early discovery that she must work hard to make it, particularly, when she was not born with a silver spoon.
An indigene of Ekiti State, she was sighted by Daily Sun, offering barbing services at Onikolobo, Abeokuta. Out of curiosity, our correspondent engaged the lady barber shave his beard. She said barbing did not caught her fancy just to lend credence to the truism that “what a man can do, a woman can do even better”, but to practically make ends meet.
She explained that as a lady from a family that is not well to do and who wants to be educated, she must work hard to augment the stipends being given to her by her parents as upkeep allowances. She disclosed that her determination not to “sell her body” to met her financial needs spurred her to learn barbing, which “has been paying my bills.” She vowed to work hard to set her own “world-class barbing salon” very soon:
“Actually, I don’t want to be a beggar. I don’t want to be one of those girls out there who beg men for money. I just wanted to be myself. I just got the passion, I watched the theory on the Youtube and later, I went for the practical training. I have been doing it for two years.”
Funmi said she has been exposed to sorts of harassments from menfolk. According to her, many a time, her clients had harassed her by making sexual advances towards her. She added that several of the clients who could not muster courage to ask her out, would always engage her in licentious discussions, by asking her whether she can also help them cut their pubic hairs:
“It has not been easy as a lady cutting hair for men, I face a lot. But because of what I want and the determination, I don’t give up. I have made a decision that this is what I want. No matter what, no matter the circumstances, even the sexual aspect of it, no! I won’t let it happen! So, I am focused.
“For instance when I approach a man that ‘I am a barber. I cut hair. I make you look different.’ Some of them will be like, ‘do you also cut underneath?’
“At least, I still feel bad but just because I want to get their attention, I will just laugh it out. Others will be like: ‘Do you do home services? Can you do it in my bedroom?’ They say it jokingly but if I give them the attention, they are probably serious.”
Like his male colleagues, Funmi also carries out home services for her clients, but with a caveat. She explained that she always ensures that barbing at home for clients takes place in the compound and not in the confine of any room in the building. She added that if the client is married, the barbing takes place in the presence of his wife:
“I do home services but it’s going to be in the compound not in any room of the house. You know cutting the hair itself is not good in the house. If the man is married, his wife is going to be there and if he is not married, I do it outside; that is the policy.
“I make between N15,000 to N20,000 monthly. Don’t forget it’s not what I do full time for now because I have to go for lectures and all that. I still have parents, with the help of my parents and the one I could render, I pay my school fees. But in terms of the textbooks and all others things in school, I am able to do that.”
The female barber disclosed that she has been able to discover and develop many barbing styles, via mistakes made while cutting the hair: “No one is an island. Ideas come everyday. It is said that once you make a mistake in barbing, it becomes a style. But you can create a style so that when people see it they will want to do something like that. Meanwhile, it was a mistake you made to be a style. So, this has applied to me as several styles have been discovered through mistakes I make while cutting hair.”
Funmi explained that since she has not been able to raise enough fund to start a barbing salon, she decided to move around and engage what she termed mobile salon:
“I don’t have a personal shop but I am a stylist in another barber shop. Most of my customers prefer me coming to them because where my shop is quite far. So, I do mobile. I have a chargeable clipper. I don’t need a generator. Once I charge my clipper, it works for three to four hours.
“People want me to train them, but I don’t have a shop and being a woman, I move around. I am taking my time they are people who want to learn. In Mass Communications, there is a particular course on entrepreneurship; so what I am doing is part of it.”
Funmi advised ladies, particularly students, to search their minds and think of vocation they can learn. According to her, getting educated alone, might not be enough to empower a woman, but having a vocation always helps to make one an employer of labour, rather than being an employee. She believes with a vocation on their hands, ladies can save themselves from unnecessary intimidation and sexual harassment.