Almost all African women love their hair. In their eyes it symbolises beauty and is ritually looked after on a regular basis – spending money on it, changing it, and using it to get a fresh new look.
Braiding hair in Africa is not only a skill girls learn from an early age; it is also a social activity, and an excuse to chat and gossip while doing each other’s braids! So, here in their new country, the numbers of African beauty parlours are on the rise, especially it seems in Adelaide.
To find out more, SALT Magazine went to one of the longest established African Hair Dressing Salons, ‘African Beauty & Hair Stylists’ on Prospect Road, to talk to owner Sunday Golda about the hair business.
Sunday was born in Khartoum, Sudan, and has been running her shop for over 5 years, after arriving in Australia 7 years ago. Becoming a hairdresser was actually her plan B as she had studied Biology in Syria, but, as she was taught in Arabic, her qualification was not recognised here. She thought it would take too long to improve her English language skills to follow her chosen field and opted for hairdressing as something she had always loved doing.
“I’ve loved doing hair since I was little and I’m good at it, so I did a 6 month hairdressing course in Melbourne, got married and moved to South Australia and opened my salon two years later,” she said.
She now does hairstyles on a full time basis and to improve her business skills she will soon undertake online management studies.
Braids and weaves are currently in high demand, says Sunday, but she also does cornrows (also called Ghanaian lines) dreadlocks and any other style that makes her customers stand out, and keep coming back to her salon.
Now after 5 years of operating her business, Sunday is still very grateful for the support she got from her community. “I was the first Sudanese woman to open a Salon here, and when my first customers arrived saying, ‘We finally have a salon’, I felt good, as if I had done something for my community”.
“I’m proud that I have a truly self-made business, I started from zero…some people even laughed at me, thinking this business will be closed after a month, but I’m still here, still growing and still improving.”
These days her clients also include Australians and Asians, as well as Africans of course.
Sunday makes no secret of the fact that running a business has its downside, mostly because of the time she has to spend away from her family. “Raising a family and doing business is very challenging but one has to do what needs to be done to keep everything running smoothly” she says with a shrug of her shoulders, “….and as long as my customers are happy I’m happy to keep doing what I’m doing.” Her advice to anyone thinking of starting a business is: “Know what you are doing, enjoy what you are doing, and give it 100% all the time.”