Hair salon stands the test of time

Brothers Aman Kumar (left) and Amal Kumar are the 3rd generation operating the Vijay’s Hair Salon at Veve Street in Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Vijay’s Hair Salon has stood the test of time for more than three decades.

Vijay Chinnaiya, the man who established the hair salon way back in 1991, was the late Tui Vuda and former president Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda preferred hair dresser right until his demise.

Mr Chinnaiya, 70, better known in the Sugar City as the “president’s barber”, has now retired from the family-run business. His son Kamlesh Kumar took over the reins from his father years ago.

Mr Kumar said hairdressing was his dad’s hobby and something he put his heart into. “Before he became a professional hairdresser, he used to go around in the community of Wairabetia in Lautoka with his manual clippers and scissors to tend to his customers.”

According to Mr Kumar, his father at 33, joined B Kika (an experienced barber who was running his own hairdressing business in the Sugar City) in 1985. However, he made quick progress and six years later he opened his own barbershop.

“Mr B Kika taught him the art of hairdressing and in 1991 he started his own business.

“We started our hair salon business in the heart of Lautoka City, which was located opposite Courts.

“We operated there only for two years because that particular building was burnt down. We then moved to Lomaline 111 Vitogo Pde, where we operated for 24 years.”

He said in 2017, that property was sold and they shifted to 26 Namoli Ave in the Ram City Building, Lautoka, where they are still operating.

Mr Kumar was only 20 when he joined his dad in the 1991.

“I learnt everything about hairdressing from my dad and it took me only three months to become a professional barber. My dad basically showed me the ropes of hair dressing business.

“In 1998, my dad became less frequent with hair cutting and he trusted me with his business and now I am carrying his legacy forward,” said the 51- year-old.

Mr Kumar says it has been 31 years since he has been dressing hair and over the years he has groomed hair for prominent people including the late president Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda, Fiji’s former prime minister the late Ratu Tevita Momoedonu and the owner and chairman of Reddy Group of Companies Mr YP Reddy to name a few.

“One day, the late president turned up at the shop, but my father, who used to dress his hair, was away on that particular day at a funeral.

“I filled in place of my dad, however, I clearly remember my hands trembled that day because it was my first-time ever to groom his hair.”

He said the late Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda was a humble and wonderful person who trusted his skills.

“After I finished dressing his hair, his face beamed when he looked at the mirror because, according to him, I had groomed his hair very nicely.

Mr Kumar’s two sons are the thirdgeneration hairdressers in the family.

“My eldest son is cutting hair for the past seven years while my younger son has been in the trade for a little over two years.

“They have learnt hairdressing professionally from hairdressing institute Pivot Point Institute in Lautoka, however, I made sure both of them have some practical knowledge of hair dressing before sending them to the institute.” He said their charges for adults starts from $5, but for children and elderly clients their rate was $4.

“As a barber, it is very important to develop friendly communication with your customers because each individual client has their own expectations of how their hair would look after going under the trimmer.

“During my hairdressing journey, I have learnt to be more humble and respectful, which is very important in our line of work.”

Mr Kumar also has another barber salon which is just a few meters away from their current location, which he has rented out to his son-in-law and elder daughter.

“I am slowly passing the baton to my sons and I hope they would carry our family legacy for generations to come.

“In my journey in the hairdressing business, I have met many customers such as doctors, judges, lawyers and customers from all over Fiji including businessmen.”

He said over the years, they have gone through many ups and down, with the pandemic being the most struggling phase as business went from bad to worse.

“Now we are picking up slowly and getting much better. I have also trained so many boys and they are now operating in many international countries and also within Fiji.”

Mr Kumar’s sister Meena Kumar also joined the family business in 1999 and has been grooming women in the Sugar City for little over two decades alongside his brother.

“Obviously, the interest to pursue hairdressing came from my dad. It was my dad that taught me how to groom a man’s hair.

“I learnt about hairdressing for females from an Asian lady and I offer a variety of services to the ladies currently.”

Third-generation family hairdresser, Amal Kumar said, his grandfather and dad are his inspiration and he hoped to continue with the family legacy.

More Stories