Valentino Alonge is not your regular hairstylist. The 39-year-old father of three girls is one of the few male hairstylists dedicated to styling women’s hair in the country. Happenings caught up with him for an interview at the hair salon, Lewa Studio, in Victoria Island, where he gives other female hairstylists a good run for their money.
How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been a professional hairstylist for 19 years now.
How much do you make in a day?
During the week, business does not boom as much as it does on weekends. We do very well on weekends and have a good turn up of clients. At times, on week days, we have like three clients. On weekends, we have about six or seven clients.
What’s your customer base like?
Customers come from all over the Island; from Lekki, Ikoyi, VI. We also have customers from the mainland.
How do you cater to their needs?
Here, what we do is … we care about client’s natural hair mostly. We don’t really want you to always fix your hair. We want you to treat your natural hair very well. And when you have great hair, I don’t think you need to fix weavon. But we do weavon and we do natural hair as well.
What’s the rent like?
The rent is 4.5 million per year.
What kind of people patronize you?
Does that make you feel like you have to be constantly on your toes?
This is what I signed up for. That is the job I chose to do and I’m happy doing it. When I see clients, I don’t want to know if I’m stressed or something. I just want to work. And I get more strength when I’m working.
What is your major concern about their hair?
Health. Good healthy hair.
What do you do towards that?
Treatments. We do protein and moisture treatment, which is very key. And we advise our clients to come every week for treatment, shampoo, moisturizer, and other things to moisturize their hair.
Have you ever travelled out of the country?
Yes. I love exhibitions a lot. I love to attend Beauty exhibitions, mostly in Dubai. And there is another exhibition coming up in Georgia, USA, in August, which I hope to attend.
What is your experience like each time you travel?
I always meet great people. The last time I travelled, I met Jill Anthony Pennel. He is the number one stylist in Texas. And I met Ricky. He is the number one stylist in Canada. I want to be like them. I want to be the number one hairstylist in Nigeria, Africa’s number one, and the world’s number one. So I really want to be like them, even better than them.
If you could ask the government to do something for your business, what would it be?
Finance. Because I want to be one of the most classy salons in town. Everybody has a taste. You know I said something about the clients that come here being first class. For them to be more comfortable, I need the finance.
What about you? If you could change your career, what would it be?
If I come back in the next world, I would become a stylist again. I love it with a passion. If I’m sleeping in the mid-night and you call me to make your hair, as long as there is money behind it, I’m going to stand up.
How do you relax?
I relax on Mondays. I don’t work on Mondays. I sleep, sleep, and sleep. When my kids come back from school, we play and sleep again in the night.
How has hairstyling been able to cater for your family?
I married when my salary was 13,000 naira and I was able to take care of my wife and my little girl then – my first daughter is 15. And God has been faithful to me. I’ve been able to take good care of them. Hairdressing has been putting food on my table, putting designers on my body, doing everything for me.
Photo Credit: Solomon Ekhaiyeme