Lessons learnt while dyeing my hair

For a while now, I’ve been trying to get my hair purple. I’ve dyed it three times, and it ended up blacker than when I started. Aside from being terribly frustrated, I’ve learnt a few lessons for life and business.

1. Always do your research

I went to five or six shops looking for the perfect shade of purple. Turns out shops in Nairobi don’t stock much beyond brown, black, blonde, and grey.  Apart from realising that someone should stock strange hair colours – even if it’s only on demand – I discovered that Nakumatt and Uchumi sell half a litre of Ooh yoghurt at 73 bob while Ukwala sells it at 95 shillings. Interesting.

2. Get dizzy-proof

The thing with servicing clients, no pun intended, is that sometimes, you’ll go round in circles and end up right where you started.

The first colour I bought was aubergine, and after several sessions using varying degrees of it, and going through black, red, blue, and several purples, I’ve ended up with plain old aubergine. Come Saturday, I’ll put it on my hair undiluted, and drive my hairdressers off the edge of sanity.

In business, be prepared to spin on the spot with a client, and when you walk past the same signpost for the millionth time and client says ‘that’s exactly what I want!’ do some yoga, smile, and remember that it’s worth it in the end.

3. Failure isn’t always a bad thing

On the assumption that the Saturday dyeing will work, it will have taken me two weeks, four sessions, three thousand shillings, 6 to 7 hours, and six pairs of gloves to get my hair the right colour. But, I now know 3 ways not to dye my hair, and next time, I can do it using 200 bob and one go.

4. Improvise

At one of the shops I went to, they didn’t have purple dye, but they suggested I try powder food colour. I laughed at the idea, but apparently it’s a popular one, and it gives you a much wider colour range. Plus, it’s temporary, so if it doesn’t work out, it’ll be gone in a few weeks.

As a business person, you should always give the client what he wants. But if you don’t have it, sell them a Plan B. Just be sure it’s one that works.

5. Know when to stop tweaking

The thing with artists is we never know when to stop. We always want to put in one more word, take a comma out, change the shade of blue, twist a bit of code, make everything just perfect.

During my multiple sessions, I started out ultra-violet black, which was too dark, so I added some aubergine, which was too light. I put in a bit of food-colour purple … which took me back to black. Very frustrating. If I’d just left it at bright purple, it would have darkened with time.

Good business is like dyeing hair; you get your hands messy, you don’t know what to expect, you use a lot of resources [and water] and your hands get really, really hot.

So remember to have a tank, a long fuse, a borehole, a source of emergency capital and a brilliant assistant, even if that assistant is you.

And always, always, always wear gloves.

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through www.threeceebee.com.

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