Blog | Black History Month Spotlight – Celebrating Ruth Bizirhi
By Carrie MokShare post:
Read time: approx 5 mins
With this year’s Black History Month’s theme being #SalutingOurSisters, University College Birmingham explores the journeys of some of our incredible black female alumni and puts a spotlight on their achievements.
Here we’re putting the spotlight on Ruth Bizirhi, owner of DolledbyRuthX.
As a bridal hair and make-up specialist, Ruth set up her business after graduating from BA(Hons) Specialist Hair & Media Make-Up in 2022. Combining her knowledge of working with black hair and wigs with the skills taught on the degree, Ruth’s lifelong passion has led to her to running a full-time business having had instrumental help from the Creative Futures Incubator in partnership with the University of Warwick. She is now looking to the future of the hair and make-up industry and how she can be a force for change in the training of new skills in the years to come.
Hi Ruth, can you tell me a bit about where your love for hair and make-up came from?
So I've always been doing my hair and make-up, since Year 9, but I never thought I could actually go anywhere with it full time.
For me, I started treating it more as something that I do for fun, some extra money on the side, but I really enjoyed doing it so I’ve always been doing hair and make-up. But then things got difficult with my part-time job and I had things going on, which I think was for the best because it pushed me to then become self-employed.
I was already working in hair and make-up full time alongside my part-time job and being a mum as well, I was like, you know what? I'm getting loads of clients. I'm booked every weekend. I might as well become self-employed! So I quit my part-time job, used all my skills that I learned from my degree and I just put it all into hair and make-up. Then I went into the bridal industry because I'm more comfortable on that side doing bridal hair, bridal make-up, styling.
What did you learn from the Specialist Hair and Make-Up course? And how does that differ with your experiences growing up?
In Birmingham there aren’t that many bridal hairstylists that do hair like me in terms of black hair and playing around with wigs as much as I do, for example I'm able to style bridal hair on a wig.
I grew up doing my own hair so had practice there. On the course, I learned how to work with Caucasian hair as I didn’t know how to wash, dry or straighten Caucasian hair. I then applied those skills onto wigs, which are very silky and similar to Caucasian hair. A lot of African, black brides, tend to wear wigs just so it's easier to manage and style because with natural hair – oh my god, it takes so long to style! So a lot of them opt for wigs.
You were the first cohort of the Creative Futures incubator. How did that help you launch your business?
The incubator actually helped me with my social media because I wasn't good at posting and captivating clients. We did a lot on social media presence and that helped boost clients coming in and it’s now my main source of clients - 95% of my clients come through my Instagram! They also helped me with my business cards and changing my logo, and helped us financially with a grant to help us start up our business. That money helped me to do my business cards, get my lighting, top-up make-up and new things for my business, and that’s how I was able to become self-employed.
What are you hopes for the future?
So I definitely want my business to grow bigger and get people on my team. But I want to teach. I want to come back to the University and become a teacher, teaching hair and make-up because my specialism is in Afro-Caribbean hair and bridal hair – two areas that would be great to see more of in the curriculum. There’s a lot of money in these two areas of the hair industry, so I think everybody should have these skills.
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