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Man reveals why tying headgear is ‘fun’ biz

WT: So how did you get into the headgear-tying business?Emeka Ncehi: My mother ties Gele. When I was a child I always watched while she…

WT: So how did you get into the headgear-tying business?
Emeka Ncehi: My mother ties Gele. When I was a child I always watched while she did that. As time went by, I gradually developed interest in it and I started making attempts to actually tie gele. When I eventually began tying and people noticed I was good at it, I started helping my mother when she had plenty to tie. Really I started tying Gele out of curiosity. You know children become eager to learn things especially when they are very young and naïve.
The main reason that motivated me to start tying Gele as a means of living was because my mother worked so hard to cater for my siblings and I, so as the eldest child, took it upon me to get something doing and help the family financially. Since I had a passion for it, I decided to officially set up the business, and here I am today.
WT: How long have you been in the business?
Ncehi: Over 15 years now though I learned it when I was in primary school. This is something I find fun doing because it gives me joy. Years back when I was still in Jos, I had a small shop where I sold electronics, but during the Jos crisis, the shop was burnt down. I managed to open another shop afterwards but unfortunately it was burnt again during the second crisis. I had no money as at then to open a new shop therefore, I just decided to rely on my Gele business. Hence, I moved to Abuja where I am doing perfectly well.
WT: What challenges do you face?
Ncehi: The major challenge I face is the fact that I am not a make-up artist. Most of the time when I go to tie a bride’s Gele, the make-up artists aren’t happy because they want to do that aspect, too.  There is this jealousy when they see me but I just pretend that I don’t know what is happening. I do my job and leave. However, that has motivated me to learn make-up so I can offer a full package to my customers. One thing I believe is I am not doing this business strictly for money but because I derive joy and pleasure from doing it. For one to be successful, you need to be good at what you do.
WT: Do you have people who train under you?
Ncehi: Yes, I do teach people. From time to time I organize seminars and I also offer classes. I have trained nothing less than 500 people. Presently I am the only male who ties headgear in Wuse Market and probably the most popular in Abuja.
WT: What is your price range?
Ncehi: I don’t have a specific price for tying headgear. It depends on the customer. If I am tying a headgear within Abuja, I usually charge N10,000 and if it is outside Abuja, I collect N25,000. If I am offering home services, the price is different as well. The amount I charge varies.
Sometimes I make N50,000 to N100,000 in a month. The season determines the amount I make. Like, this month of January I really don’t make much because it is a time to teach; so also the rainy season, because people don’t really fix events during such periods. But when it is the dry season, I make more because there are more events that time.
WT: Does your gender affect your business?
Ncehi: My gender has nothing to do with my business. The only thing is that some of my Muslim customers don’t let me tie the Gele on their head because it is against their religion for a man other than their husbands to see their hair. However, that isn’t a problem because I tie the Gele on a mannequin’s head and it fits perfectly as though it was tied on the head. Fascinatingly, majority of my customers are Muslims and I am happy about it.
WT: How do you determine the headgear style that is suitable for each customer?
Ncehi: Tying of headgear is a talent, so if I see a customer I can quickly detect what she wants. A customer’s dress can also help me to decide the style of headgear. But there are times when customers refuse your choosing styles for them. On such occasions I allow you choose what you want.
WT: What advice do you have for unemployed youths?
Ncehi: I would advise they get something doing. I have realized during my course of teaching others that there are graduates, undergraduates who come to learn from me. I had a doctor who came to learn from me, so if someone like that would want to learn why not you who doesn’t have anything doing. I hear people who complain that there is no work, getting a job is hard, etc. They need to know that not everybody will work and that instead of just sitting down waiting for a job to come, you can use that time to learn a trade.

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