Need a haircut or a good shave? Just call Shivappa and he will vroom to your doorstep and give you the desired service. A makeshift goods auto redesigned into a mobile salon is making rounds in and around neighboring places of Chikamagalur district in Karnataka. The innovative idea of a mobile salon came from a Facebook picture of a random ‘foreign’ national, says the now successful entrepreneur.
Shivappa (32) worked as a barber in a salon in Chikamagalur for around 22 years. “I came to this town from Raichur when I was 10 years old. I didn’t like school and came to stay 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 lockdown forced the shop shut," says Shivappa.
Around last year, Shivappa came across a picture of a person on Facebook who was posing in front of his mobile salon. The idea struck immediately and Shivappa started dreaming about owning a similar mobile salon.
Shivappa didn’t know any other work and he has been a barber all his life. So he thought it was high time he started on his own. The Facebook idea was still at the back of his mind and he set off immediately. He took a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh from a finance company and bought a second hand goods carrier vehicle. He made a few modifications by creating a tent like structure at the back of the vehicle and hung a board: ‘Sanchari Hebbuli Hair Dresser’. He rode his vehicle along the length and breadth of Chikamagalur and shared his phone number with everyone.
Shivappa soon received encouraging responses from all and people started calling him almost immediately for his services. Shivappa has been a happy man since the idea of his mobile salon picked up. He used to earn around Rs 10,000 a month while working in the salon. Now he earns at least Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 everyday. He drives the salon to the customers’ doorstep who them climb atop on the back of his vehicle, which is the salon area. Shivappa gives them their desired services and they pay him.
Shivappa’s mobile salon ‘Sanchari Hebbuli Hair Dresser’ is so well known that people from neighboring villages also call him up for his barber services. He drives to any village within a radius of 10 kms if there are at least 5 to 10 customers.
“I should at least be able to recover my fuel expenses. I have been a regular visitor to Marle, Bambelli, Ramanahalli, Chikkanalli and few other villages. Recently villagers of Ramanahalli waited for me to give them a haircut. I went there at 10.30 in the night and they were still happy”, says Shivappa.
“Due to lockdown and ban on vehicular movement this time, several villages are not finding barbers to give them a haircut. Last year, barbers would travel on bikes to villages and make some business. But this time, police are seizing bikes. But, mine is a goods auto and no one stops it," says a happy Shivappa. All the men of Ramanahalli were hence happy to get a haircut after around 3 months even if it was late in night.
Arun, a happy customer applauds Shivappa. “This is a very good idea. I was scared of visiting a salon due to crowd there. But this mobile salon allows only one person at a time. He follows all safety precautions and the best part is he comes near my house to give a haircut and a shave. Even after regular salons open post lockdown, I have decided to take this service at doorstep” he said.
After this idea of a mobile salon became a huge success several other barbers have visited Shivappa and his vehicle. They may imitate this idea and more mobile salons may come up here. “I am not worried, I am my own boss now and no matter how much I earn its all my own. That is sufficient”, says the successful entrepreneur. His wife works at a beauty parlor and the couple have an 11-year-old daughter.