HomeStandard StyleHairdressers invade public spaces

Hairdressers invade public spaces

Women like to look good and they spend varying amounts of money on hair and beauty products.

Inside Track with Grace Mutandwa

In the past many women made that once-a-week visit to the beauty salon a big social event. It was the place to unwind and hear the latest gossip. Now when you walk into most salons there are fewer people and the mood is just not as eclectic.

You can now have your hair, manicure and pedicures done in the comfort of your home. We have a strong team of travelling beauticians.

Economic challenges have created a new brand of entrepreneurs. If you enjoy the outdoors, you can visit the garden beauticians. These are found at Greenwood Park in the city’s avenues or Harare Gardens close to the city centre.

Park benches have been transformed into makeshift beauty stations. Clients sit on benches in the shade or on the lawn to catch some sun. There is no running water to shampoo hair so clients normally ensure their hair is clean before every garden salon visit.
The lack of necessary salon equipment also limits the services offered. At the makeshift garden salons you can have your hair plaited, hair extensions attached, weaves sewn on or dreadlocks re-touched.

Your garden hairdresser can always send a WhatsApp message to a colleague who can come and do your nails while your hair is attended to. For more elaborate beauty work you are referred to “beauty salons” housed in nearby apartments.

These usually consist of a small table and two wooden chairs in a dingy corner of a small room. The table would hold various shades of nail polish, a tatty hand towel, bags of acrylic nails and a few other tools of the trade. The young women and men working in the parks beauty salons have built a growing clientele and struck strategic alliances with others in the beauty and hair industry to keep their clients happy.

I am pedantic about cleanliness and I cannot imagine having my hair or nails done by a person who has no running water to wash their hands. I worry about germs. I have my hair done in a clean salon but I still shampoo my hair at home.

I carry my own towel to cover myself with while my hair is done because I cannot bear the thought of sharing towels — but this is just me. I know other people do not mind but they should because some people have sores or other skin conditions that I am sure are contagious.

There is no proper policing of what goes on around the city in terms of business or service provision by the authorities.

If city-by-laws were adhered to or enforced, I am certain we would not have hairdressers working out in the open with no toilet facilities or running water. Discarded synthetic and human hair litter areas of the park that serve as makeshift salons.

This is an unhealthy situation that should be dealt with. The young women and men using Harare Gardens and Greenwood Park to run their businesses are doing so because they have no jobs and cannot afford rentals for more comfortable surroundings, but it is wrong. The spirit of entrepreneurship must be nurtured, but not at the expense of the preservation of our parks.

They pay no rent, no utilities bills, no wages and in most cases clients supply products to be used. They have a very good deal going which is a relief for their families.

At least they know they can sustain their families, but local authorities should find partners to help them construct low-cost small-scale business premises for such enterprising people. However, this can only work if the rentals are not extortionate.

Greenwood Park and Harare Gardens used to be great places of unsullied beauty. They were well-kempt and clean. Newly weds used to take pride in having their photographs taken in the Harare Gardens.

Today one has to negotiate with the scores of people either lying on the benches or lawns or the groups of photographers and the hairdressers to find a serene spot for a picture.

Admittedly, our city is no longer as clean as it used to be, but we can clean it up. It can be beautiful again. Local authorities and anyone who has an interest of preserving the sanity of our city should do their bit to help put an end to anything that destroys the capital.

Grace Mutandwa is a Media Consultant, and published Author. She can be reached at:

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