(Patna) I am a hair dresser and I have been working for the past 13 years now. I started working after class 10 in a salon. I told myself: ‘it is alright, there are a lot of people who have to work out of necessity and my family needed my support’. At that point in time, it was very challenging to grow in this profession in Patna as there was no training institute or centre. I also realized there were a lot of prejudices against this profession. Working in a salon meant that you were perceived to be unable do anything else in life and were also viewed to be part of a prostitution racket. There was no respect. But gradually, when I started going to big cities and abroad for trainings, I realized there was a lot of scope in this profession. I also questioned if this was such a low level job, then how come doctors, engineers and scientists are involved and creating beauty products and equipment.
After I got married, I thought I might have to give up my work, but my husband was very supportive. He said that I had worked hard to achieve this and so if I want to continue then he was there to support me.
Ten years ago I started this salon in a space of just 350 square feet. In 10 years you can see the growth - now there are 10 salons and 125 employees and I am managing all of them. I have my salons in other cities as well.
I hire women from poor families who are unskilled and uneducated and have no means to support their families or have no support from the families. I train them for this job and see them doing well in their career and in life. I also realised that women are very dedicated to their work. In many cases, men earn livelihoods but women not only earn but also look after their family and home. There are some women who get up at 4-5 am in the morning, send their children to school, cook for everyone at home, go for work from 10am to 8pm and finally get back home around 9 pm. It is very challenging for them but they still enjoy their work. Gradually, the career scope has increased for them with better salaries and better training. My salon is at the 4th position in the entire eastern region in India, which also includes big salons in Kolkata. This is a big deal in Patna too. I hope to go even further.