I Quit Banking to Become a Natural Hair Stylist - and Here's My Advice
"If it is to be, it is up to me"
You're probably wondering if you read right. But yes, I quit my job as a banker to become a natural hair stylist!
Before I go further, a little introduction?
My name is Ajibike Salami, but Jiji for short (my now 14-year-old nephew gave me that name when he was about 2 years old and could not pronounce my name. It stuck!) . I graduated with a second class upper in Physics (yup! Physics) from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. I completed my mandatory national service year with a reputable bank and got a job there as well. So yes, I had been gainfully employed for almost 7 years. I like to think that I am one of those children that any (Nigerian) parent will be proud of.
Looking back, I have had a pretty decent career earning a relatively good salary but I just wasn’t feeling myself – satisfaction was lacking.
In a bid to fill this apparent void, I decided to have a “side hustle” in 2015. I started a kids’ salon. It was a good idea - or, so I thought. It didn’t quite pan out as planned – I wasn’t available to monitor my staff because of the demands of my regular banking job plus a couple of them were shady - pocketing funds even when they were not even making enough money to pay their own salaries! So, that did not quite work out, but I will revisit it again soon.
So why did I decide to do this full time? Natural hair always held a certain appeal to me so when my friend suggested that we give it a go in 2012, it wasn’t a tough sell. I returned natural in 2012 and before 2016, most of what I did with my hair was wash and braid it with the occasional puff. At a point, it seemed to me that my hair was uneven. I decided to have it trimmed (3 months before my wedding in 2016) so that I could have this beautiful head of hair for my wedding. I went to this supposedly nice salon and the dude basically gave me another big chop.
Honestly, I cried that day; and, that was when the seed was sown in my heart to start a natural hair salon because I felt that he had no clue how hard it was to grow or maintain natural hair.
My hair grew long enough to be styled beautifully for my wedding because I paid extra attention to it, and you guessed it - that seed in my heart grew some more.
After my wedding, I stumbled on another natural hair salon and was wowed by the experience. That was the day I knew what I will find joy doing: I wanted to be a natural hair stylist. So, I pursued it. Observed the pros do it, paid to get trained (I’m not sure I got as much of my money’s worth from this training but, oh well!).
Then I decided to style my own hair. I did a two strand twist for myself and posted the picture on my Instagram business page @laplacedejiji. To my surprise, I got reposts from a number of natural hair pages that I looked up to for style inspiration. This further boosted my confidence
I got a bit more serious and decided to start styling people over the weekend - I converted a part of the house to a mini salon. I told a few friends and colleagues and it grew from there. Taking it further, I decided to go for a mini training in Lagos with the amazing @KemiLewis. I also spoke with my mentor Kelechi of @Yellowsisi. I contacted her on Instagram and she was gracious enough to accept to mentor me. One key advice she gave was "set a target, you'll be surprised that you will surpass it".
I did a trial in December 2017 as advised, setting myself a target amount of money I hoped to make from styling hair at the weekends. By the 14th of December, I had surpassed that amount. Of course, that boosted my confidence some more.
The new year rolled in and I said to myself, "if I don’t do it now, I will keep procrastinating, probably lose momentum and may never get around to achieving my aspiration of being a natural hair stylist".
So, I made the choice to quit my job as a banker. My resignation was effective from the 23rd February, 2018. While I know that for a few months I have signed up for an automatic pay cut, I am certain that I will find fulfillment in my new vocation.
The most interesting part for me is the thought of having more time to myself to discover the world and the endless possibilities thereof. I also enjoy the conversations with people that were strangers and have now basically entrusted me with their hair journey. It’s exhilarating!
I believe everyone deserves this kind of ultra-good feeling doing their own thing. But please do not say Jiji made you do it. I’d recommend you check the following on your to do list before taking such a bold step:
1. Pray about it
2. Know exactly what you want to do
3. Research and read widely to know more about it
4. Have a plan
5. Get a mentor
6. Acquire training
7. Test the waters
8. Save. Save. Save!
9. Build-up confidence; be patient with yourself but stay true and consistent
10. Talk to like-minded people
There! That’s my story. Have you made any similar bold moves? Are you thinking of doing it. I'll love to hear your story and support you.
When Jiji reached out to share her story, I was all up to it! You know how much I believe in having a day job and that not everybody is cut out to won their own business. But much more than that, I totally believe in fulfillment, satisfaction and purpose doing what you know you love. I personally think it takes a lot of courage and willpower to make this transition and it's great to see people who do it!
What would you rather do if you could? What plans are you making to aid that transition?