From UG with style: Meet the trendy loctician rumbling the hair industry
Starting from the bottom to getting himself to where he is, hair expert Hadad ToNdo has made a name for himself in the locks business. He chats with MANUEL NTOYAI
Who is Hadad Tondo?
I am a businessman, born in Mbarara in Uganda some 30 years ago. I am a married and God-fearing man.
Growing up, did you ever picture yourself as a loctician?
No. Actually, I wanted to get into fashion, music and everything showbiz, but God had a plan for me and the plan has worked out great so far.
How has the journey been for you thus far?
My journey started in 2006 when I completed Form Six. Coming from a humble background, I could not proceed to college due to financial constraints.
I started tarmacking looking for work and the first job I got was at a restaurant. I started saving some money.
From the savings, I paid a guy who was into locks business to teach me the craft.
I worked in Kampala for seven years and then decided to come to Nairobi in 2014 to look for greener pastures.
I got my first job in the city where I was employed as a loctician and was lucky to have the guy let me put up at his place for two weeks.
After settling, I got another job at a salon at Capital Centre along Mombasa Road, where I was paid on commission basis for one year.
From there, I got an offer at another salon in South B where I could set up my workstation and pay rent at the end of the month. From my savings, I opened up my place and here we are.
How did you come up with your brand concept?
When I started working in Nairobi, people would call to book for appointments and say ‘I want to be locked by Hadad’ and this stuck on my mind and when I set up my business, I thought it would be nice to continue with it.
This being a niche market, what are some of the lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
I used to love art so much back in school, and as I got to understand the business more, I saw it was related to what I loved doing since I was young. So, this was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.
Our specialty are temporary locks that last for a year and only need to come for a retouch after a month.
But we have also witnessed a change of trends with more women, and even some men, appreciating their natural hair.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered?
There is stiff competition as more and more people are getting into this business. Then there are people who are dealing with fake products and do a shoddy job and this reflects negatively on us.
Making everyone happy is also a hard thing to do, as different customers come with different expectations.
Tell us more about your initiative to train young men on this craft.
When I first got into this business, I noticed many young men viewed this work as women’s job. I started thinking about how I could make an impact and give back to the society in some way.
I figured that training more young men to get into this work would not only change the societal perspectives, but would also help someone grow economically.
How do you handle ‘the boss’ aspect of the business?
Being a boss is a good thing as it’s a motivation to others, but also it is hard having 20 people under your supervision and you need to make sure that they all earn.
They all look at you to provide guidance and also leadership. But again, I also tend to have a different approach because I am also like one of them, so we work together harmoniously.
Trends in the locks market.
Actually, nothing is new, but it all comes back packaged differently. We have seen a number of changes in the locks industry, with people experimenting with what feels and looks good on them; from short, long, braid, wool, yarn, crinkle, cornrows, wavy to bohemian dreads. It keeps on changing and as an art lover, I have to keep on being creative.
Looking into the future, what are your plans?
I am looking for partners to not only develop more natural products, but also sell more awareness on usage of natural products. In one year, you will be able to get our products on the supermarket shelves.