As unemployment increases in Jamaica, more and more women are taking to ‘roadside hairdressing’ and this is, in turn, lifting the stigma behind the practice. While sanitation is an obvious issue, the hair dressers and cosmetologists say they take pride in their practices and seek to be as professional as possible. From the Jamaica Gleaner;
The women have set up their operations outside shops that are noted for selling mainly hair products. That has given them an advantage in terms of visibility to passers-by and an open portfolio to those who are interested.
Their methods of operation are very suited to what they do: by not taking on any jobs that are hours long and by not using electricity, they have managed to survive the normal utilities of a regular salon and the bills that those would have incurred.
“We normally work with the store owners, because they know that we help to boost their sales. We would normally send clients to their store to purchase from them. They, in turn, would give their clients a reasonable bargain and quick assistance,” said Hillary*.
The hairdressers claimed that it was their open portfolio that attracted some clients.
“Well, people like originality, style and flare. People have seen me here for more than 10 years, so my credibility would show that I can produce good work,” said Dorothy.
A client with whom we spoke supported her.
“I just saw them each time I come to town. I eventually came to like their style and just gave it a try. I’ve been going ever since,” said Peta-Gayle*.
The street-side hairdressers also claimed that it was their professionalism, as well as their pricing, that kept their clients coming back for more.
“We treat our clients nicely. We try to think of their needs first, since we are operating on the roadside. We charge our clients at a reasonable price, and we are also willing to bargain, where at a salon, you could not do this,” said Dorothy.
Another client was of the same view.
“They are nice and professional. They are very understanding and reasonable,” said Denque.
On good days, the hairdressers are pleased with what they earn;
On a good day, I can make $9,000*. This can take care of my family. But on a bad day I make $0. Really, no one wants to work on a roadside; we all have pride,” said Pam.
“We’re popular because we are female hustlers, women who refuse to turn to the stereotype that poverty expects us to. Plus, we are not a common everyday sight,” said Dorothy.
“We’ll become more organised eventually, in my opinion, but we’ll never die as long as there is unemployment and women with our skills,” said Pam.
*$9,000 Jamaican dollars is equivalent to $76 US dollars.
Ladies, what are your thoughts? Have you ever gotten your hair done at a roadside salon?