Thapelo Motswiri, popularly known as Mzala the Barber by his customers, is a renowned barber who has cultivated quite an impressive customer base in the city of Gaborone. Mzala is well known for his hair cutting skills, which he narrates that he learnt from his mentor Osman Muhammed.
“I have always been an artist and I have learnt to express myself by cutting peoples hair. Now my art has turned into a lucrative business since hair grows every day,” he said in an interview.
He believes the best haircut is fade haircut, which is characterized by a light shadow on the sides that gradually blends into a darker, heavier top. To him, cutting a client’s hair is all about prioritizing their needs while also giving guidance and advice where necessary. As such, the type of hair cut depends on the occasion and personality of the customer.
“A talented barber can determine which haircut would best suit a customer just by assessing his/her complexion and head shape,” said Mzala.
He added that there are challenges in the industry, as some customers believe a haircut shouldn’t be expensive. Also, said Mzala, extreme weather conditions like high temperatures, rain and cold winters may result in some customers opting to postpone their hair cuts. Some clients don’t always have money and therefore come for a haircut only once a month during month end. Mzala also said the business was negatively affected by frequent power cuts. However, he managed to survive by improvising with the conventional razor blade, comb and scissors.
“I somehow benefitted from load shedding because I was compelled to sharpen my skills by learning how to use a razor blade. I am now perfect at it,” noted Mzala.
He believes the secret behind the razor blade is that it precisely defines a cut and the shape of the head. After using a machine, the razor blade perfects the cut by making the hair even. It eliminates blunt ends and leaves the client with angled ends on their hair.
“There is an odd sensation that a barber feels when they cut with a razor. You can actually feel the hair cut,” said Mzala.
He prides himself as a professional barber who takes issues of hygiene seriously, as he always sterilizes his equipment and makes sure that all his tools are free from germs and dirt.
“I have zero tolerance for germs and dirt. I also use brand new razors for each client alongside methylated spirit,” said Mzala.
His expertise and professionalism has landed him a number of lucrative deals, together with a high profile client in the form of rapper Kuli Chana, who makes it a point to pass by Mzala’s barber shop whenever he is in the country. Other notable celebrities that regularly seek his services include Izzy of Yarona FM and Brandon of Pula Power. Just for convenience Mzala has a monthly subscription plan for his clients that enables them to get a haircut anytime they want. Giving a word of advice to budding barbers, Mzala urged them to be serious about what they do as they can earn a living through cutting hair. His wish is for government and other stake holders to view hair cutting as a serious profession that can help create employment and diversify the economy.
“It’s difficult for barbers to get funding, even after providing a detailed business plan. But the reality is that barbers are needed every day,” he said.
Mzala’s younger brother has also taken after him as he now works in a barber shop in Rustenburg, South Africa. Mzala aspires to open the first barber academy that will produce professional barbers. He currently plies his trade in Phase II, plot 19396. He can also be contacted on facebook at Mzala the Barber and through mobile on 71744925.