Cape Town – With the #feesmustfall movement gaining momentum, the rise of alternative training could occur if entrepreneurs with unique skills taught youngsters their craft and gave them an opportunity to grow.
That’s the message from Blokes Hair owner Brian Oosthuizen, who has grown his hair cutting business into a three-store operation in five years.
Oosthuizen launched his salon in Cape Town on 5 December 2011 with a chair, a mirror and no clients. “I still remember telling clients to take a seat when we had no furniture,” he said.
He got one client in his first week. “Obviously there is a lot of thought going through your mind like, did you do the right thing.”
His passion for cutting hair was all it took. Quickly, word spread about the quality and technique of his cuts and soon his business was flying.
“I worked on my own for two years, six days a week, and paid myself R6 000 a month,” he said.
Oosthuizen shows all the signs of a successful entrepreneur: Talent, dedication and the will to never give up. However, his x-factor is his dual-passion of his hair cutting craft as well as a love for teaching.
“A huge passion of mine has always been to teach,” he said. “I was able to train (apprentices) in very little time and from there I was able to see the results of my techniques of cutting.
“I decided it was a very good time to expand, seeing that I had my first staff member trained and ready to cut like me in every sense,” he said. “That led to us having to open a second shop, (which the staff member runs).
“I have given this guy an opportunity to change his life and change everything,” he said. “It is such a nice skill you can hand over to someone."
VIDEO FEATURE: Telling the Blokes Hair story during a quick cut
Message to students who can't afford university
The Blokes Hair model is to create small, intimate salons that offer customer excellence and quality cuts. Once fully trained, his proteges run the other salons. Blokes Hair now has two men’s hair salons and one female one called Broads Hair.
Oosthuizen has also officially launched Blokes Academy, which offers professional training to barbers or stylists. He still cuts at the original salon in the Cape Town's De Waterkant, while ensuring he balances oversight of the various salons and his academy.
“I have seen so many students lately that were still studying and stopped because there was something that came their way,” he said. “There was an opportunity that they grabbed and they ran with it.”
For those who can’t afford attending a university, but have a talent they believe in, Oosthuizen has this message: Always do what you love, believe in yourself, push hard and never give up.
“Take an idea you think you will be amazing at and run with it and see where it takes you,” he said. “Sometimes, when you pick up something that you love, a lot of doors open up after that.”
Oosthuizen has not invented something new by passing on skills and giving opportunities to others. After all, government has its dedicated department focused on small business development as well as programmes like the Seta.
The Seta, according to the department, promotes and facilitates the delivery of education, training and development in order to enhance the skills profile of the education, training and development sector and contribute to the creation of employment opportunities - especially for those previously disadvantaged.
Government's initiatives to boost entrepreneurship comes as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has called on big and small businesses to bring their creativity and innovation together to create inclusive economic growth.
Oosthuizen's story reveals how South Africans can use their talent, skill and innovation to help others in their journey of growth. While government has it programmes - successful or not - Oosthuizen has shown how a passion for entrepreneurship should be balanced with a passion for passing on skills and opportunities to others.
With #feestmustfall set to dominate South Africa's education narrative for years to come, the concept of entrepreneurs becoming teachers might become ever more important.
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