In our world today, gender discrimination with regards to education, occupation, politics and opportunities are surely fading away. The beauty and fashion industry has an almost equal representation of men and women. Men now do what was formerly thought was meant for a woman and vice versa. It is not uncommon to see a lady who prefers a male hair dresser to a female. Sylvia Amaka Ike is one of such ladies. “There is always a difference,” she says. “A man would treat your hair as if he is treating his girlfriend’s hair. The outcome is always very good.”
One man who is setting new standards in hair dressing and has become one of the most sought after hair stylists in Lagos is Femi Elegbede, popularly known as Femi Black.
Chatting With Femi
His phone rang intermittently while we spoke; old clients calling to book appointments and new ones, mostly referrals, asking for a suitable time to visit.
He said he had developed interest in hairdressing as a young boy who often followed his elder sister to the salon. “I liked the way they used to make ladies hair and had it in mind that I would learn it if I had the privilege. When I finished school and came to Lagos, I was fortunate to meet one of my friends who was already into the trade and I joined him.”
With over six years experience in the profession and a good learning experience with Bobby Eke at Bobby Signatures, Surulere, the hair stylist says he develops his skill everyday to keep up with new trends and satisfy his clients.
“I always think about my customers and try to do things to make them happy. Women like to change their look often, so i create beautiful styles to suit their different tastes. I also practice a lot on mannequins. When I see a new style I haven’t done before, probably in a magazine or on TV, I spend up to four or five hours before sleeping at night, making those hair styles on mannequins so that I don’t make mistakes on a client’s hair.”
For Femi, it is very important that you love what you do so that you will not only enjoy your work, you will also be very good at it. “Your gender does not really determine whether you will be a good hair stylist or not, or whatever profession you choose. It is important that you have passion for your work even when it’s not profitable. That way, you will always be sought after.”
Without putting on airs, Femi says he is proud of the number of clients that patronise him. “I have clients from all parts of Lagos and even Ibadan. I don’t find it difficult maintaining them because I offer excellent services at very affordable prices.”
Femi is a man who takes no chances with his clients’ satisfaction. To remain in business he says, he must have satisfied clients who would bring him even more clients.
The Man at Work
Hearing much about a man’s skills and actually seeing him at work are two very different things. Watching the stages of creation of a beautiful hairstyle, a process I’ve seen countless times, had a unique, special edge with Femi Black.
One of his assistants had fixed the hair extension on his clients’ hair before calling him to style it. He first of all greeted the lady with a broad smile and inquired about her family. Then he asked her how she wanted her hair styled which she indicated from his salon’s photo album.
Once he started working on her hair, he assumed a serious, almost angry look that spoke of a man who had found his passion. He moved the combs and scissors deftly, like he was born for the hair. When he began, it was hard to imagine what the outcome would be. He cut and trimmed in many different places, it seemed like he was just playing with her hair. Then he oiled and sprayed, and working his way with a hair straightener, the style began to take shape.
When she flinched as the heat touched her scalp, the smile quickly returned to his face and he said, “So sorry sweetheart.”
Minutes later, he was finished and the result was a beautifully made hairstyle. His client, a very satisfied Zainab said she loved her hair. “Femi Black makes hair very well and I’ve been coming here ever since I discovered this place.”
Obviously the hair style was not meant to last for one day. He was sure to give Zainab a tip for maintaining it before she left. “Don’t apply too much oil so that it won’t swell up and become flat.”