- September 18, 2021
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Many children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, usually say doctor, lawyer, or pilot—but in this tech era, answers might expand to animator or game developer. But not ‘Ramadhan’, real name Evariste Tuyishime, who, while growing up, cut hair as a hobby, and hoped to do it professionally someday.
As a barber, his joy comes from holding a hair clipper, and his passion for trimming hair started in 2000, when he was only nine years old. At the time, they owned a hair salon at his parents’ home.
“When I turned 10, my father suggested that I manage the salon, making sure that clients were provided with the best service, and that I followed up on the money made on a daily basis so as that workers didn’t try to steal from him.
Evariste Tuyishime trims a client’s hair in his salon in Kigali.
“In the morning, I’d go to school and in the afternoon I was in the salon, with time, my curiosity to learn how to cut hair sharpened,” he says.
Because haircut styles are something that intrigued him, even when watching movies or music videos, he took notes in his mind.
“When I started cutting hair, I observed that I had actually taken too long to start because I was artistic. The haircut style posters on the salon walls also helped me get creative. And the evident look of satisfaction on the faces of the people I attended to, inspired me to do even better,” he adds.
Sometimes, he would pack a hair clipper in his school bag to cut his friends’ hair, and the cash they paid him, was added to pocket money.
Some of his workers at the salon.
When he joined secondary school at Groupe Scholaire Gihundwe, Tuyishime was already an experienced barber. “When my father noticed that I was skilled, he offered me a small mirror and hair clipper and said, ‘Go and study, but use your free time to cut your schoolmates’ hair’,” he says.
Of course, this was something he was already doing, and, the school actually had a salon, so he asked for a chance to show his skills, and surprisingly, the school barber was impressed and asked him to cut students’ hair on Saturdays as he was a Seventh Day Adventist who didn’t work on that day.
Many encouraged him to take his skills further. Sadly, this praise made the school’s barber jealous and he started speaking ill of him so that no one would want to get their hair cut by him, but had already won the students’ hearts.
“Towards Senior Three national exams, I trained one of my friends, just the basics of cutting hair, so that he would follow in my footsteps after I was gone,” Tuyishime says.
But because he he had already started his business at the school, he went back to the same school for A-Level where he completed Senior Six.
“In 2011, after completing school, I received a call from a salon owner in Rubangura building located downtown, saying that I was recommended as a skilled barber. And just like that, I was offered a job,” he says.
He worked at that salon from 2012 to 2016. He also worked at another salon for three years and another for two years after that. He was unable to complete the last period as agreed in the contract because he heard there was someone selling his salon at a decent price.
Looking into his savings, he felt it was time do his own thing. He, therefore, bought the salon which he named “Kigali Clippers”.
Looking back on his journey, Tuyishime believes that it has been one of endless learning. What has kept him in this profession for this long, he says, is the love for his job, providing quality customer care, and of course, creativity.
“Unique hairstyles and materials, great interaction with my customers, have gotten me even more customers,” he says.
Tuyishime has no doubt that he has a good reputation because he receives continuous feedback from his customers. His haircuts range from Rwf 2,000 to Rwf 6,000 but with dye inclusive, from Rwf 8,000 to Rwf 20,000.
He has 15 workers and says that each barber can have about 10 clients or more per day.
The barber says his salon has also had celebrities like Bushalli, Bruce Melodi, Junio Giti, Queen Kalimpinya, Benjamin Gicumbi, Fuadi Uwihanganye, Rosine Bazongere, walk in for a touch up.
“Some of the challenges are expensive salon equipment, and costly salon maintenance as most of the equipment used frequently must often be maintained, if not, they glitch.
“Another challenge is that some customers are hard to please. We also lack proper marketing services,” he says.
According to Tuyishime, this career path doesn’t require much to get the hang of it, but it needs you to love it, be patient and stay up to date on what customers like.
“I anticipate becoming a major brand in and out of Rwanda. I also plan to start a school that will train and produce the most qualified barbers, and offer lessons in salon management. I also hope to inspire the youth who are interested in this profession,” he says.
As his salon expands, he has hopes of employing more workers. He calls upon the youth to learn whatever skills necessary instead of despising work because if he had done the same, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
You can reach Evariste Tuyishime on 0788295833
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