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Hair, hair, Holder

Marlon Madden

Hair, hair, Holder

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What started as a one-woman backyard operation for Marrita Holder has now blossomed into an established business.
And the 31-year-old hair designer already has her eyes set on further growing her operations.
Holder is the owner of Merri’s Hair Designs and employs two workers. Besides hair, Merri’s Hair Design also offers manicures, pedicures and make-up application for various events.
Holder, who officially opened her business at the Elmo’s Complex in Spooners Hill, St Michael, over a month ago, said she was seeking to develop a niche, catering specifically to children. She also has plans to introduce barbering.
“I see myself having a big salon. I also see myself having a children’s salon. I would separate the children from the adults. There would be a setting specially for children,” said Holder.
The biggest wish of this businesswoman for the hair and beauty industry is to have duty-free concessions on products such as salon dryer chairs and hair products. These items, which are not produced locally, said Holder, are very expensive but essential.
Holder’s close friend and advisor, Wayne Yearwood, 43, said one of the issues affecting the industry was competition from unregistered operators or unqualified individuals.
“I feel that there should be something done. Unless you are a qualified or trained person you should not just open a business like that. That is one of the problems small businesses are having in Barbados. You should be considered a trained cosmologist to open a salon. This is not only in hairdressing, it is also in barbering [and] the selling of food.
“Until you can provide some sort of certificate and get training, you should not be able to just up and open a business. It creates a bad name for legitimate businesses, he explained.
Holder said, however, she remained confident about the future of the industry here and she was not worried about competition because “everybody has their own customers”.
It was about 19 years ago that Holder became the envy of her classmates at the Springer Memorial Secondary School because of her unusual and flashy hairdos.
The Greenwich Village, St James resident said while growing up she was a lover of “dollies”, “not to play with but just for the hair”.
“It was always my dream to become a hairdresser,” Holder told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
“The girls were always admiring my hair and when it came around to inter-school sports and dress day that was when I would do their hair. I can tell you that around age 20 I told myself at age 25 I want my own salon,” recalled Holder.
After graduating from secondary school, Holder took a job at a supermarket but she never lost sight of her dream. Eager about her passion, Holder would attend cosmetology classes during the evenings after work.
“Before I had a salon I used to do hair in a little room and in the gallery where I set up my chair and table . . . . I remember the days of washing the girls’ hair in the yard and I still have those customers. That was over eight years ago. Before that I was working full time but I would still do hair on my off days,” Holder reminisced.
With her client base outgrowing her veranda operation, Holder was forced to set up shop in Spooners Hill. But with limited traffic as well, she decided to take a chance and operate from a location she believed would bring even more customers.
Holder admitted that when she first thought about moving, it was “a scary moment” but she decided it was a path she had to take if she wanted to grow.
The entrepreneur observed that there were a number of salon operators who were only in the business “for the money” while failing to deliver quality service. At the same time, she pledged to continue her focus on good customer service.