He is the entrepreneur that turned an unappreciated occupation into a respected profession. Mohamed Al Sagheer is the one who turned an overlooked skill into a strong brand to satisfy and beautify all women. His name became synonymous with fabulous hairstyles, and he took beauty and hair care to new heights in Egypt. We sat earlier this week with none other than Mohamed Al Sagheer, founder of Al-Sagheer Salons, in his very classical and antique-filled home to get a glimpse of his thoughts about to his work, family, society and women.
“I saw my uncle dealing with the classiest and most important people in the country. However, he was personally living the life of any simple craftsman”
Al-Sagheer began working as a hairdresser at the age of 10 at his uncle’s salon. However, his vision began at the age of 14, when he left school and chose to work full-time as a hairdresser, “I saw my uncle dealing with the classiest and most important people in the country. However, he was personally living the life of any simple craftsman. I did not accept this ideology and I thought to myself that a hairdresser must get what he deserves”, he tells. Having come from a simple middle-class family, he wanted to be part of this lifestyle using his passion. He traveled to Paris, and studied the profession. When he started working alongside famous hairdresser Louis Alexander Raimon (also known as Alexandre De Paris), he saw and was assured that a hairdresser deserves his respect and strong placing in society. After experiencing racism in Paris – which made it hard for him to reach his aspirations – he returned to Egypt, where he would grow to become the first Egyptian hairdresser to rise and make a name and brand out of himself and his passion.
Today, Al Sagheer has opened 28 branches in Egypt, one in Dubai, one in Qatar, is preparing two additional branches to open in Egypt and has recently introduced to Egypt the concept of a Blow Dry Bar – a “help yourself” quick salon concept targeting the younger, busy generation. Now that Al Sagheer’s brand has grown to be well-known by the help of his son who now runs 70% of the business, Al Sagheer tells it as it is, “the hardest thing to do is to work with your son,” he says, referring to his son Moustafa. He explains that giving his own input while teaching Moustafa to have his own personality and make his own decisions was extremely difficult for him. However, his understanding and the maturity level of his son have allowed him to communicate with his son and put complete faith in him over the years. For Al Sagheer, handing down a family business to the minds of the new generation is very important in order to implement new and fresh ideas for the future. Today, Al Sagheer likes to refer to himself in relation to his son, as merely his son’s advisor.
“today young entrepreneurs have all kinds of marketing tools and the media on their side. When I was building my brand, I had none of those tools”
As young entrepreneurs are on a rise, Al Sagheer finds that today they have it much easier than older generations had it, “today young entrepreneurs have all kinds of marketing tools and the media on their side. When I was building my brand, I had none of those tools. Today, they have it much easier regardless of any social problems they may be facing”, he explains.
However, in regards to social problems, Al Sagheer shared his thoughts on why he believes women today take less care of themselves, in comparison to the women of the 1950s and 1960s. Due to the Wahhabi religious perspectives that entered Egypt in the 1990s, which led to the social problems of sexual harassment and sexism, women today find it uncomfortable leaving home looking good, “today any woman in a veil, or even in a niqab gets harassed like any unveiled woman, whereas when I was growing up, I would see women going down in their tennis attire normally and no one would give a care”, he tells. As a solution, Al Sagheer believes that strong actions should be implemented to get rid of such social problems, “when I was younger, any man who harassed a woman would be taken by the police, and they would shave a cross on his head. They would keep him until 11pm, to ensure that all barbers were closed, and they would send him home so his entire family can know he harassed a woman. Why did this stop? We need to bring back such actions to teach our men manners”, he says.
“when I was younger, any man who harassed a woman would be taken by the police, and they would shave a cross on his head. They would keep him until 11pm, to ensure that all barbers were closed, and they would send him home so his entire family can know he harassed a woman”
In conclusion, Al Sagheer, shared with us what he believes women want, “a woman wants to feel like she can fulfill her true potential and have her deserved stature in society”, Al Sagheer tells, adding that a woman plays 90% of social roles. Due to our backwards beliefs, women find it hard to fulfill their full potential. Regardless, Al Sagheer has high hopes, “the near future will be bringing a lot of great changes that will yield to the needs of women”, he concludes.