Dechen Tshomo

“My family made sure that I knew a job was more than just civil service. I was born and raised in Chukha in the colonies of the DGPC where Apa was a staff and Ama, a homemaker. In school, I was an average student but still managed to graduate high school. The dilemma after that was choosing a career. My family was my support system who encouraged me to pursue what I loved. So, I came to Thimphu and started training in a salon. My husband was still at college and my parents were at Chukha, so I was mostly on my own here. The first lessons were on hair and facial treatments, and slowly I got into manicures and pedicures. After 6 months, I started working and not long before, I even bought a salon of my own.

I nearly left for India for training but my safety was a concern to my family. However, there was nothing I couldn’t do here in Thimphu. After a while, the whole point of being a working woman made sense to me. My husband found work as an engineer, but living expenses in Thimphu were no match for anyone. Slowly, we had loans for the new car and a baby was on the way. However, just as Apa had always taught me; depending on your spouse alone to feed the family shouldn’t be the goal in life. Over the years, money was not an issue as long as the salon stayed open and customers came in. It was during the pandemic that the business was down.

From customers, I got to learn that for some, a makeover is a way to build their self-confidence in public. Interestingly, some would say that without good hair and makeup on, not even shopkeepers pay them attention. From the ones who gossip about celebrities to the young people and lately, a lot of men have started visiting; before, it shocked the other women in the salon, but now, they seem to appreciate and cheer them on when men get their brows threaded and get a facial. A sign board outside says, ‘unisex’ and hence, all genders are allowed inside my place. Some customers come for the head massages I give as part of the routine. Seeing that, I’d continue the massage until they are fully relaxed. They would leave with joy and even suggest bringing the elderlies in their family for a massage.”

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