By Fareeha Qayoom
couple of days ago, I got mail; (nothing strange in that; we all get mail; so why am I telling you this?) Well, this particular note was from a total stranger and he was using Facebook. He was in marketing and he was inviting me to test his product and endorse it to my friends and family by inviting people to his Facebook group. I liked his novel approach so I thought to myself – why not? Let’s check out his offer first.
As you know, I have been having a series of bad hair days because of an abundance of expensive and bad hair stylists in town. I was willing to give this one a try too since the marketing pitch went something like this…
SERENITY Haircut Parlor – Liberty Market
Category: Business – General
Description: Serenity, a brand new Haircut parlor for women, based in Liberty Market Lahore.
I, Ms Nayyer Serena, am trained as a professional hairdresser from Houston, Texas, where I started the business. I have always had a passion for hair styling since I was a kid. Wherever I have been around the world with my late husband, I have always visited the salons everywhere because of my keenness in the art. My influences come from the best in the business in Istanbul, Cairo, Amman, Jeddah, Houston, Bangkok, Bombay, Athens, etc.
As of now, I am taking appointments for my own haircut parlor which is located in Meena Bazaar Plaza, Main Liberty Market, Lahore.
It is a lovely small place with a friendly environment for women and great rates.
For more information and appointments, the ladies can reach me on 0300 422 6900. Serenity, a brand new Haircut parlor for women, based in Liberty Market Lahore
I asked the marketing manager to let me have her charges. He told me her introductory charges were only PKR 400 per cut. Reasonable, I thought, especially if the lady knows what she’s doing. We set up time. My sister also wanted a cut so she said she wanted an appointment too.
Today at 3:30 pm we showed up at her salon. The salon was a make-shift operation. More like what you see on street corners of residential markets – you know the type – an open roadside hair cutting salon for men. Well, I was still not daunted and was willing to give the lady a benefit of a doubt. I apologized for being delayed. I sat down and told her to proceed since I was in a hurry. My sister would be joining us shortly. We talked a little bit about the cut. She was going to give me a different look. The lady wet my hair, pulled some sections at the back. In the meantime, my sister joined us and started making small talk with the lady. My sister, “how long were you based in Houston?” “Six months,” says Nayyer.
My sister, “How long have you been working at hair cutting?” A slight cough, “six months,” says Nayyer.
My sister, “why did you come back to Pakistan?” “I have to go back to Houston every six months because of my green card, but you never know when your ambitions in life might change so things are fluid right now. I decided to open a salon here and see the local response,” says Nayyer.
In the meantime, she had finished combing out the first section. She looked kind of nervous. She made me nervous too since she looked quite unsure holding up the scissors and a section of my hair. In fact, I thought her hand was trembling too. She made the first cut. She held the scissors differently than some of the professionals I had seen in action and her movements continued to be very slow, tentative and unsure. So I quickly said to my sister, “Listen, since we are in a hurry, and mom is waiting for us, can you postpone your hair appointment for later?” My sister, being very quick on the uptake for once immediately agreed with me. In fact, she went one step further and told me, “Hey, would you mind if I go quickly and visit my tailor?” I agreed quickly and told Nayyer that we would reschedule her appointment.
In hearts of my heart, I knew I had made a mistake. I thought I should stop her before she did any more damage. I didn’t for a bit but I started praying for a miracle. I let her cut two sections off at the back and then stopped her from chopping anymore at the side or at the front. She quickly agreed with me. Looking quite relieved. The whole process took only five, maybe ten minutes. Then, she blew dried my hair. I told her not to force my hair into any style and just dry them; which she did. I got my wallet out and asked her, “how much?” She told me, “PKR 450.” Since her son/marketing manager had told me PKR 400, I told her I would pay what had been agreed previously. I quickly paid her and left.
Later, comparing notes with my sister, I celebrated the fact that I had walked over very thin ice pretty successfully. The lady’s work was not even worth PKR 150, I had paid her more than she was worth but I had made it out with all my hair intact. I looked no different than before, avoiding any major damage to the previous cut. The minor damage can be corrected by a professional hair stylist pretty quickly. Furthermore, I had been very diplomatic. I am known for my “brutal honesty” but I didn’t indulge since I am trying to turn over a new leaf, you know, learn the art of diplomacy (my version – being kind instead of being truthful but not lying), so I felt pretty good about myself.
The marketing manager called me later for my comments, luckily, my sister picked up my cell phone. She told him, I was unavailable. The guy told her that I could send him a note on his Facebook. I am not planning to do so since there is no way I can disguise the truth. You can market all you want, if your product sucks, it won’t sell. The consumer might try it once, but for repeat business, you have to give value for money. Her plan to raise her prices to PKR 600 will not work. You know why? Because the quality of her work is so poor, even PKR 400 was too much. She’s already overpriced.
My advice: if you receive her invitation on Facebook – just ignore it.