ANDREEN Rose-Cephas grew up in 'Back Bush' seeing her sisters braiding and her father trimming hair on the family's verandah to make ends meet.
But while doing hair was not strange to her, Rose-Cephas wanted to go beyond the usual braiding, relaxing and cutting styles common to every hairdresser flooding the island, and is today a certified trichologist operating her own business from the New Kingston Shopping Centre.
As a trichologist, she functions as a hair doctor who deals with disorders of the hair and scalp that are specific to the cosmetology industry.
"There are some disorders that we are not equipped to deal with and those kinds we do refer to our general practitioners or dermatologists," Rose-Cephas explained to All Woman from her office at Hair Extreme Beauty and Barber Concepts last week.
"So we work closely in conjunction with our general practitioners and our dermatologists."
She explained that while trichology is an ancient art, it is relatively new to Jamaica as today, there is still only one doctor of trichology on the island — Dr Hyacinth Oates.
"But I intend to change that very soon and piggy back behind her," Rose-Cephas smiled. "I am a trichologist but Dr Oates is a doctor of trichology, so I am now continuing with my research to do my final paper which is coming up very soon. I leave to go to Alabama to present it and defend it and that's when I will get the title," she said.
Rose-Cephas attended Mountain View Primary in Kingston 3 where she grew up, and there she received a sports scholarship to Ardenne High.
While there she got pregnant in fourth form.
"After giving birth I went to the Women's Centre and was then placed at St Andrew High School for Girls. After St Andrew High it was on to Exed Community College where I learnt cosmetology," she explained.
After graduating Exed, Rose-Cephas went to work as a clerk at Transport Authority for a little under a year before her position was made redundant. But being a young, single mother living in an inner-city community, she knew she had to provide for her child, and so she decided to rent a booth in her community to practice hairdressing.
"So you know that being an inner city girl and a young mother, your family [would be] trying and stuff but you had to make it count," she said.
After less than a year working in her community, Rose-Cephas gave up her small booth and started working at Exotic Trends in Pavilion Mall, Half-Way-Tree.
"When I got there I realised I was in a big, wide sea swimming," she recalled. "I only had one talent. I could braid. And so I braided day, and I braided night, and what I would do is the girls that would do great cut and curl, I would go by and help them braid, so during that time I was learning from them."
After Exotic Trends she starting going to seminars and training opportunities in order to upgrade herself.
In December 1998, Rose-Cephas' dream came true. She got a shop in the New Kingston Shopping Centre and moved in a month later. She was now her own boss.
Since then she said she has continued to do upgrades, going from school to school, including Dudley Cosmetology University in North Carolina, where she did her advance training in master cutting, and was then awarded a Licentiateship (LCGI) from City and Guilds.
She then pursued her diploma in teaching and training and is now a trained trichologist, who is writing her final paper in trichology after being certified by the Elan Centre of Trichology in Alabama, USA two years ago.
She said the industry comes with its fair share of challenges, some of which can be avoided.
"The challenges I face as a trichologist include the amount of damage that is coming in — simple things that persons (cosmetologists) are not getting right," she explained. "Things like persons leaving relaxers over time, some of the relaxers that are used on people's hair are very damaging, and it's a harsh deal to customers."
She added: "And some persons putting on extensions are of the opinion that they need to be ridiculously tight, pulling the eyes back, for it to be really, really neat, but those can be damaging. The real challenge comes with the watering down of the profession. We as cosmetologists, we really don't understand what it is we do to people."
Therefore, she said, persons who are of level one and two qualification should be supervised by others more qualified.
Rose-Cephas believes that small business persons like herself come under a lot of pressure.
"I think we come under a lot of pressure from the get-go, because it is not something that you are given guidance in as to how you should operate and steps that should be taken," she said. "So I think a lot of people just get up and start businesses and don't really know anything about it. It has become easier for me over the past four years because I have learnt what to do and what not to do."
Rose-Cephas is a lover of sports, who played netball for Ardenne, St Andrew and Exed for many years. She was crowned sportswoman of the year for 1993 at Exed and brought her team to victory at Ardenne in 1985.
She describes herself as easygoing, though she said many persons read her wrong because she is very rigid and tends to have a straight face more often than not. But, she said, she is actually very fun loving and outgoing.