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Juliet Esiri: At Home With A Master Head Turner

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Juliet Esiri: At Home With A Master Head Turner


juliets2She gazes steadfastly at the piece of fabric in her hands as she takes her time to study carefully the shape of her clients head. Obviously, the question on her mind is: ‘what style will suit perfectly.’ Her eyes brighten as she gets a clue. She neatly wraps the fabric round her client’s head with one side of it overlapping the other creating a V-shape at the front. The result is a creative master piece head gear otherwise called ‘gele’ in Yoruba.

Some people may not know but gele tying has become an art through which smart makeup artistes like Juliet Esiri have turn into a gold mine. She has been able to create different styles from all kinds of fabrics like aso-oke, kente, jacquard amongst others.

“I can sit down to imagine different styles,” she says gleefully using her hand to demonstrate the tying process. “Gele tying is actually a form of art. It’s not everyone that can do it. Whenever I see women at functions in Nigeria, I just shake my head. Why? Because it’s boring, it’s just one style. I miss the U.K for this. U.K ladies want different style. They always want to go out in different styles.”

The U.K is a hot market for Esiri where she ties the head gear from when the weekend begins on Thursday to when it ends on Sunday. At times, she ties the head wrap, package it and sent it by courier to her clients who live in different parts of the U.K. often, her clients don’t untie the gele. They would keep it carefully in the in the carton for use another time. “In the U.K, I get a lot of appointment. In fact my diary is filled with a lot of appointment.”

Esiri has created a mini industry from gele tying as she has trained many others. She charges as much as $10,000 for Gele but back home in Nigeria since she opened her beauty parlour, Okin Arewa at Adeniran Ogunsanya, she charges as low as $10. But for home service she charges $50.

Depending on the size of the party, Esiri ties as much as a hundred pieces of gele in a day. “Most times I lost count of the number of gele I tie. I have tied up to 100 Gele in a day at times at party. I tie gele in the toilets, changing room. There was a club anniversary in the U.K, each member had two fabrics of gele. There were 48 members. I gave them different styles. If five friends are sitting down, I am known to give them different styles.”

A look at the clients face tells Esiri the kind of style that best suit. To achieve the desired creativity, she uses pins to hold the head gear down. She has created different styles which her clients have named. “Most styles are named by client,” she says smiling. My clients name my gele, most times they say I want this style with two feathers from there, I know what they want.”

Esiri expresses her displeasure at the one-style head gear that is common in Nigeria and she says she is bringing in creative styles. “I am not really happy with gele tying in Nigeria. We just have the same style the back-front style. I will bring my fine rose Gele to the Nigerian market. My signature is always on my style. When I see my Gele you will know because it’s unique.”

Esiri trained seven years ago as a makeup artist in the U.K where she had my foundational training in makeup. After this, she travelled to the United States to do more courses. While there, she trained with the famous Segun Gele, Segun Olaleye.

Today, Esiri has expanded her beauty business to include makeup artistries, services, teeth whitening and more. “It is a one stop centre that offers something to everyone. In fact, we are introducing a barbing section very soon where men can come in to have their hair cut. We also do manicure and pedicure. Everything is available in our stock. We have a bridal package where we have all the things required things like their makeup, body massage, brightening of their faces on special occasion, their head tie.”

She says she enjoys training people in the art of gele tying just as much as she loves to make her client look stunning and unique with their headgear.

“I have always have the flare for gele even before I left for the UK. I have always helped my friends to tie their gele. I have always had the passion so going to the U.K was just an instigator. I actually took gele tying to UK.”

By Funke Osae-Brown

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