Sometime in January, I decided to start my journey as a nail tech (well, more like a side hustle) together with my service year. So, I decided to speak to a hair salon owner around my neighborhood so I could work in her salon. While working, I made an interesting observation which triggered me to write this post. Please note that my use of salon in this post refers to the hairdressing salon.
The aim of the hairdressing salon is to render services which basically help people maintain and care for their hair needs. In Africa, although there are unisex salons, the majority of the salons are set up and patronized by the female gender. Just like any other establishment, the salon has also inherited its own share of stereotypes especially in Nigeria.
Most often, the salon is tagged to be a “gossip house” where topics usually centered on men and rumors about other women are cooked and distributed. This was also my previous perception about the salon before I started working in one. However, after days of observation, I realized something different about the salon which further changed my perception.
A major observation I made about the salon is that it serves as a place of escapism for women. The salon is a place where women can temporarily escape from life struggles and share their experiences with their fellow women who are able to relate with them. Advice and mini-counsel are also shared in the process of dishing out opinions and other times, inferences are drawn where they use the experiences of other people around them. Topics on marriage, relationships, parenting, sexual life, religion amongst others are usually discussed.
Also, formal relationships and networking opportunities are created in the salon. Women create a shared relationship where the time spent affords them to create friendships and a sisterhood bond. An avenue for business partnership and collaborations are created. Networking systems and mini business models are gradually built and created although they are not defined. Most times, women use the salon as a means to advertise their businesses, jobs or oppourtunites to other women.
Stereotypes about the salon should be brought to light and broken. Hair dressers are often tagged as gossips and I strongly stand against it. I believe the salon plays a role in uniting women regardless of their status in society. I suggest that the salon culture should be seen from a different perspective and improved upon so that women can comfortably share their experiences and not be tagged as “gossips” that spend all their time talking about men.