Karnataka’s “Barber on Wheels” shakes things up with its mobile lounge, one door at a time
Need a haircut or a good shave? Just call Shivappa and he will come to your door and give you the service you want. A makeshift car redesigned as a mobile salon tours in and around nearby locations in the Chikamagalur district of Karnataka. The innovative idea for a mobile fair came from a photo on Facebook of a “foreign” national taken at random, explains the now prosperous entrepreneur.
Shivappa (32) worked as a barber in a salon in Chikamagalur for about 22 years. “I arrived in this town of Raichur when I was 10 years old. I didn’t like school and I came to live with my sister who was married to a man here. I started working in a salon on Belur Road and worked there until Covid-19 and the lockdown forced the store to close, ”says Shivappa.
Around last year, Shivappa came across a photo of a person on Facebook posing in front of his mobile living room. The idea immediately hit and Shivappa began to dream of owning a similar mobile living room.
Shivappa did not know of any other work and he was a barber all his life. So he thought it was high time he started on his own. The idea of Facebook was still in his head and he left immediately. He took out a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh from a finance company and bought a used freight vehicle. He made some modifications by creating a tent-shaped structure at the back of the vehicle and hung up a board: “Sanchari Hebbuli Hair Dresser”. He drove his vehicle along Chikamagalur and shared his phone number with everyone.
Shivappa quickly received encouraging responses from all and people started calling him almost immediately for his services. Shivappa has been a happy man since the idea for his mobile living room germinated. He was earning around Rs 10,000 per month while working in the salon. Now he earns at least Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 everyday. He drives the lounge to the customers’ threshold, where they climb into the back of his vehicle, which is the lounge area. Shivappa gives them the services they want and they pay for him.
Shivappa’s mobile salon “Sanchari Hebbuli Hair Dresser” is so well known that residents of neighboring villages also call it for its barber services. He goes to any village within a 10 km radius if there are at least 5 to 10 clients.
“I should at least be able to recoup my fuel expenses. I have regularly visited Marle, Bambelli, Ramanahalli, Chikkanalli and a few other villages. Recently, villagers in Ramanahalli waited for me to give them a haircut. I went there at 10:30 pm and they were always happy, ”says Shivappa.
“Due to the confinement and the ban on vehicle traffic this time, several villages cannot find barbers to give them a haircut. Last year barbers would cycle to villages and do business. But this time, the police seized bicycles. But, mine is a freight car and no one is stopping it, ”said a happy Shivappa. So all the men in Ramanahalli were happy to have their hair cut after about 3 months even though it was late at night.
Arun, a happy customer applauds Shivappa. “This is a great idea. I was afraid to visit a salon because of the crowds there. But this mobile salon only allows one person at a time. It follows all safety precautions and the the best part is that he comes near my home to cut my hair and shave. Even after the regular salons opened after the lockdown, I decided to take this service home, “he said. he declares.
After this idea of a mobile salon became a huge success, several other barbers visited Shivappa and his vehicle. They can emulate this idea and more mobile lounges can appear here. “I’m not worried, I’m my own boss now and no matter how much I earn, it’s all mine. That’s enough, ”says the successful entrepreneur. His wife works in a beauty salon and the couple have an 11-year-old daughter.
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