Christine Nakaye is a student at the Management Training and Advisory Centre (MTAC), Nakawa, doing a six-month course in hairdressing who was inspired by years of working in her aunt’s salon. “After my Senior Four in 2014, I could not continue with school because I lost my father and our family’s financial status could not allow me to continue through to high school. I, however, had an aunt in Kampala who ran a salon. After a whole year at home, I got ample time to think about my life and my future,” she says.
This opened Nakaye’s mind to realities she could not change but also, opportunities she could seize. “I did not know how big the salon was, how it faired financially or whether she would be willing to take me on, considering I did not know anything related to hairdressing. I just had the willingness and attitude to learn the skills,” she says.
After Christmas of 2015, Nakaye left Masaka, her home, to Kampala with her aunt for an initial visit. “Her salon was in Bwaise, a medium sized salon, where she employed three women. The first week, I observed how things were done and got determined to ask her to teach me. I did not waste time but completely moved in with her and started learning,” she says.
Taking advantage of the people who used to work in the salon, Nakaye gradually learned how to plait different styles of braids.
“In two months, I was allowed to work on a few customers who came to the salon, but under supervision. I could complete braids, plait children’s hair, wash customer’s hair and after a while, I was confident enough to plaint someone all by myself,” she says.
Almost three years later, Nakaye was able to design most hairstyles but she felt lacking in one way or another.
“What challenged me most was when a customer would walk into our salon and ask for a particular hairstyle but no one knew how to plait it, especially when my aunt was not around. It always filled me with regret and wished I could also do more,” she admits.
Taking a formal course
Often, Nakaye joked with her colleagues about going back to school for a hairdressing course but it felt like a dream that would never come to pass. However, in 2017, she seriously put her mind to the thought of enrolling for the course. “I started visiting beauty schools to ask how much fees they charged if one wanted to get the skills.
I also started saving the little money I was paid at the end of every week. I decided to save Shs10,000 of what I earned weekly. I knew this could not be enough, but it would make for a good beginning,” Nakaye shares.
This year, she enrolled for a hairdressing course at MTAC which she says has enriched her with a variety of skills. “First of all, we have theoretical classes where we learn about hair, because a good hair dresser is not just the one who knows how to plait or treat hair, but it one who knows the good practices in hair care and maintenance.
Previously, I knew how to, for example, retouch hair but I did not know which texture of hair I had to apply which chemical, or why hair behaves the way it does when different elements are applied. Now I have gained all those skills,” she says.
Furthermore, Nakaye has been equipped with skills of plaiting different hairstyles, in addition to learning beauty and makeup. “Hair dressing is part of beauty and so, the institute also gives us beauty skills on skin care and makeup among other things. So now, because of the wide skills I have gained, I am able to give a comprehensive package to clients who come in for my services,” she admits.
Nakaye agrees that indeed, though one might have gained from observation or just self-taught, they benefit even more when they professionalise them.
“At the end of the day, I will walk away with more. Improved and better skills in hairdressing, a certificate which can enable me to upgrade in case I ever need to, but most importantly exposure into what happens in the world of beauty. When I go for industrial training, it will get me in contact with more experienced people from whom I can learn because these skills keep evolving with the trends,” Nakaye concludes.