WHEN he dropped out of school on completing his Grade 8 in 2007, Phehello Challa never imagined one day working in the beauty industry.
But just four years down the line, Phehello has become one of the first nail technicians in the country and the first male in such a job locally.
In a female dominated industry, Phehello (27) has been brave and judging by his work with acrylic nails, one can tell that he has done extremely well.
Two years after dropping out of school, Phehello left for South Africa in search for greener pastures. On arrival, he did all kinds of menial jobs. In between the jobs, he would visit his siblings at a salon and would watch them work on clients’ nails. It was that experience that ignited the interest.
“Eventually, I started helping out and would see where I needed improvement and started enjoying it,” Phehello told the Weekender.
He was further drawn to the industry by the prospects of making serious money realising that women were always prepared to spend money on their nails.
During his stay in South Africa, Phehello would come to Lesotho for holidays and would conduct house calls for different clients before he eventually decided to permanently relocate.
“I observed at the time that most people were using gel type of nails even though acrylic nails are more beautiful and I had to come in and fill in that void.”
Phehello said most manicurists tend to avoid acrylic nails because they are more complicated and opt for gel.
He expected to open his own shop on arrival in Lesotho but ended up working at a salon for a month.
“It was never part of my plan to work for someone else when I came back. One month into the new job, I had a disagreement with my employer and left.”
As fate would have it, he was to open his own shop in Maseru recently where business is booming.
He said being a man in a female dominated industry does not bother him because he if focused on his dreams. While he did not suggest there was anything wrong with gay people, he said it was wrong for the public to assume that every man who is involved in a traditionally female job is gay.
“Most people think that if a man does this kind of work, that automatically makes them gay but that is wrong. There are men in South African who do this and people have to change their mindsets because there is high unemployment rate in the country and we can’t afford to be choosy with what puts bread on our tables,” Phehello said.