She completed her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in the year 2014 and did not have the fees to further her education forcing her to opt to forge a way of raising the college fees by working in a barbershop.
Bruna Chemutai recounts how working in a barbershop as a cleaner where her duties included washing used towels and shaving machines that her passion for barbering was developed, not knowing what these activities would hold in store for her.
Working in the ‘kinyozi’ made her fall in love with shaving people’s hair and she developed the confidence to tell her employer that she wanted to be a barber since she was tired of sitting most of the time idle waiting to clean equipment.
“Sitting in a barber shop waiting to do cleanliness was rather less involving. I wanted to have a more dynamic engagement with a soft touch to train in shaving,” she recalls.
Her employer was impressed with the suggestion and accorded her free training sessions in the shop during the course of her duties.
Chemutai’s training started and lasted for a month where she says she proved to be passionate and determined in becoming an accomplished barber.
Chemutai decided to seek her parents’ advice about her training session where she got overwhelming support.
“My parents encouraged me that barbering was a good job meant for both ladies and men. This greatly gave me the urge and motivation to strive for the best,” says Chemutai.
When KNA visited her in her Highway Hair Cut Barbershop at Makutano Town in West Pokot County, we found her shaving a client with satisfaction.
There are challenges to being a woman owning and running a barbershop since there are people who still think barbering is a preserve of men.
Chemutai confirms that during her initial stages of starting to shave, some clients were so reluctant claiming letting a woman shave their hair and beard was a taboo.
With time, she narrates, there are many clients visiting the shop to have their hair shaved although there are a few of them who insist to know the experience she has in the industry.
“Running a barbershop one needs to always wear a smiling face no matter the challenges at the workplace besides answering all questions the clients may pose. As a barber you need to build a good rapport with clients and ensure they visit again,” poses Chemutai.
She holds that barbering is not a gender specific instead it calls for a skills mindset besides passion, training and practising.
“Starting a barbershop is not hard; you must have at least one chair which cost between Sh3, 500 to Sh4, 000 with another chair for waiting to be shaved, a shaving machine and a small capital of between Sh25, 000 to 50,000. For a simple barber shop you have to know the kind of services you want to offer and the location of your business,” says Chemutai.
Her four years’ experience as a barber has enabled her to be able to shave different hairstyles, shampooing, head massage and hair dying with ease.
To date Chemutai maintains that the barbershop earns her good money enough to fend for herself, child and a brother whom is in high school together with assisting her aging parents unlike before when she was working as a cleaner.
On a busy day she can make a profit of Sh900 to Sh2500 money that has enabled her to employ an assistant, pay shop rent and servicing shaving machines.
Chemutai aspires to inspire and motivate other women who are jobless and fear to venture in the so-called men dominated sectors.
“I want to reach out to as many women as possible and make them understand that they can be successful. They need not fear instead they should join me and stop complaining about lack of employment,” says the lady barber.