Hands-on hairdresser succeeds in Jozi

When Happiness Ncube (30) arrived in Johannesburg to pursue better life opportunities seven years ago, she found a job as an apprentice in a hair salon.

Happiness Ncube –keeps customers coming back for more.
Happiness Ncube –keeps customers coming back for more.

“I learnt how to be a hairdresser, shaving people, cutting and conditioning their hair. I quickly developed not only a love for the trade, but the idea of starting something of my own,” she told The Zimbabwean.

After working in other people’s salons for about six years, Kezi-born Ncube branched out.

“Working for other people just did not appeal to me, especially considering that despite the pressure at work and the large amounts of money I was earning for the salons, my salary did not change much. It was like I had come to Johannesburg to help other people make money while I suffered, so I had to quickly do something,” she explained.

“I had saved only enough to get started, so I began by renting chairs in other people’s salons. As the number of chairs I rented kept increasing, so did the amounts of money I made. In less than six months, I had raised enough to rent a salon of my own.”

Within three years, that salon has grown phenomenally – and Ncube now owns several other salons in and around South Africa’s busiest city.

“My flagship remains the one I began with, here in Hillbrow and I will always have sentimental feelings towards it. This is where it all began and I will always use it as a reference point,” she said.

“There were vast challenges along the way. When I began renting the salon, I thought it would all be smooth sailing, but practical experience exposed some oversights here and there – a lack of adequate finance to buy starting equipment being a case in point.”

She also found that women were very conservative and would rather stay with their well-known hairdresser than move to a new one. So while she had no qualms convincing her old clients to follow her, she also had difficulties attracting new ones.

“By doing a good job on those I already had, I got references and more and more people came. The other way to beat the challenge was to give special offers so that people would try me out. This still did not make me find it easy to pay rent because there are some women who would only come once a month due to their own financial problems, so I had to have extra money put by to pay my rent at the end of a bad month,” said Ncube.

Her fighting power saw her refuse to give up and within less than a year she was up and standing on her own, with the business booming.

“It has been a good venture, but I will not rest until I become the biggest name in the business. The passion I have developed over the years has seen me refuse to put down the chemicals and combs. I make sure I remain hands-on and the customers like that. I have also tried to make sure that my staff find it easy to interact with me and share their problems in a work environment.”

Her advice to fellow Zimbabwean women was hard-hitting: “Get off the streets and try something of your own. We were all given hands and brains and we should use those for our own advancement as women. Gone are the days when we would live off hand-outs from men,” said Ncube.

“That however, does not mean that when we make it in life, we must forget that we should listen to our husbands at home. You can be boss at your workplace, but you cannot be boss to your husband as well. I am a married woman who was taught to be respectful to my husband and so it shall remain.”

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