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One snip at a time

Shayal Devi
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cosmetologist and director of the Images Hair and Beauty Salon Seni Tuqiri-Fong is best described as a self-assured woman with a dream.

The 50-year-old has been the proud proprietor of the salon in Lautoka since October 2009.

Her father hails from Koro, Lomaiviti while her mother is from Tailevu. Tuqiri-Fong is the eldest of four siblings.

She is married with two daughters, both of whom are in university.

She attended St Thomas Primary and High schools in the Sugar City.

Tuqiri-Fong was a flight attendant with Air Pacific for 18 years and has also worked the Air Terminal Services.

"I had opened a salon, but had no idea about the nature of work involved with it. I employed a hairdresser and beautician. Then, I was approached by Pauline Campbell of Pivot Point to come in and learn about the work myself. The course took a year," she said.

She admits that after graduating, it has been a wonderful experience.

"There are heaps of perks with this job.

"All sorts of people walk in the door, you don't have to go looking for them. People come in from all walks of life and you learn a lot," she said.

The greatest gift that anyone can give her is a smile.

"It feels absolutely great to put a smile on someone's face. Really rewarding," she said.

Tuqiri-Fong says one of the most rewarding things she has done for the community since opening her doors for business is the offering of discount prices to the elderly on Mondays for haircuts and massages.

"To get their hair cut, washed, that is, the full set is just $5 and for $15, the elderly can get leg and back massages. This is easier on their pockets," she said.

Tuqiri-Fong has said word had gotten out about the discounted prices on Monday, and she could be a little busy on certain days.

"Ever since I opened this salon in 2009, local station Mix FM ran the news on air. So now on Mondays, it can be quite busy," she said.

While working at the salon has given her a morale-boosting experience, she says the experience is not without its challenges as the workload often really piles up.

"Right now, it's just me working here. On Saturdays, my niece often comes over and helps me.

"She is also a student at Pivot Point, and after she graduates, she will take over the beauty side and I will be involved with the hairdressing," she said.

The salon, situated at Leka St, off Tukani St, is a place where many would not normally notice, but the site from which she conducts business is no problem for her, it is OK.

"The location is not a problem. It will be nice to move into the industrial city area, but not right now. I have plans to further expand my business, and if not in Lautoka, then perhaps in another town," she said.

Tuqiri-Fong accepts the fact that many salons are present in this city and with their presence is competition.

"It is wonderful to see other salons. It is great because we are all different in our own ways. That is what separates us from each other.

"As for competitors, well, I am my biggest competition. I constantly strive to be better today than I was yesterday," she said.

There are many plans in the pipeline to improve the salon and even get businesses established elsewhere.

"We are currently planning to change the interior of the salon, and that is going to need a lot of work. And then, there are the plans to get another salon established in another place," she said.

Changing professions from being a flight attendant to a cosmetologist was not easy for her.

New experiences in the field, being the challenges they are, have also added a new dimension to her perspective as they have opened her mind up to greater possibilities.

"One thing I found last year was that people came into the salon, and while giving them haircuts or facial treatments, they tend to share moments of their lives with me. I found that it matters to just listen to people sometimes," she said.

"Sometimes, we get too busy to listen to others. Those who have problems cover it up with a beautiful smile. It is a gift to have listening skills," she continued.

"Like any other job, it has its good and bad moments. Sometimes, the hours are too demanding. Its almost like doing shift work with Air Pacific," she said.

She says she feels very proud when she is complimented by her customers.

"The discount for the elderly on Monday is just my way of giving back to the community. To repay them for what they have done for us.

"It feels good when they come out of the salon feeling good about their appearance. It's really rewarding to put some sunshine back into their lives," the Lomaiviti native said.

From the looks of things, Tuqiri-Fong's dream of achieving great heights through her salon will be fulfilled in due course.

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