He is an enterprising young man with a unique and profitable way to express his art. Meet George Dufanda, who is making money through creative and fancy haircuts.
At our first meet-up, he is wearing a warm smile, his style laid back but still dapper. He also has an energetic vibe that is instantly infectious.
“I matured early. I was street smart rather than book smart,” he starts. “My dream was to be an architect, but I fell in love with the art of shaving at the tender age of 13.
My father was my inspiration; he used to shave us and later he let me shave his head.” Dufanda says that since he used to shave his father’s head using a razor blade, one small mistake could mean a bloody disaster.
Therefore, he had to be extra careful and to put attention to detail, a skill which greatly helped his artistic career years later.
Dufanda hails from the Central African Republic. He took to art seriously when he joined school. He recalls one time when the teacher gave the class an assignment to draw a human skeleton. Dufanda says he nailed the assignment and “my teacher was very impressed by my artistic talent. From then on, I have never looked back.”
Later, while living in Nairobi’s Kayole estate, he struggled to grow his hustle relying largely on word of mouth. He says he was still naïve at the time and it was so hard to convince people that he could create art through shaving. On an average day, he would make Sh150, which was a 40 per cent commission on every client. Sundays were his busiest days, but he would take home a meager Sh300.
He persisted until his big break when a celebrity hairdresser called Wash invited him to work at his barbershop. This marked the turning point of Dufanda’s career. Since then, he has designed great haircuts and worked on big names like Guardian Angel, Willy Paul, Masterpiece, Bahati, and DJ Mo. He is also the artist behind Size 8’s signature bob cut and Eddy Kenzo’s look.
In 2015, some of Dufanda’s clients suggested he take part in the Afro Hair Awards competition. He submitted his work and won the award! With the award came fame and a competitive edge.
Later on, a friend talked him into a partnership, which he agreed to. This partnership gave life to Castro’s Man Cave, a barbershop in Nairobi.
Since then, Dufanda has worked with more celebrities, including Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege. Other celebrities who have gone under his razor include footballers Victor Wanyama and McDonald Mariga, as well as musicians Diamond Platnumz and Juma Jux.
Dufanda says his ultimate dream is to cut the manes of two specific international footballers; Pogba and Neymar.
He says that the average Kenyan can afford his services, with the charges for a ‘simple’ haircut going for ‘as low as Sh1,000.’ The most expensive haircut goes for Sh8,000 and is specifically for ladies. As for future plans, Dufanda has his eyes set on starting a hair college to train upcoming barbers on his artsy way of shaving.