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Tolu Mohammed - owner of the bustling Dundalk hair salon The Hair Extensions - tells Metro Éireann how she grasped a golden opportunity

Last update - Thursday, March 12, 2009, 18:53 By Metro Éireann

A hairdresser made in Dundalk

TOLU Mohammed’s story is not quite rags to riches – but it’s not too far off. Ten years ago, the Nigerian mother-of-three was living in an asylum seeker hostel in Dublin. But today she owns a thriving hair salon in Dundalk, The Hair Extensions, which attracts a constant stream of Irish, African and eastern European customers.
Originally from Osun State in south-western Nigeria, Tolu used her time efficiently when she arrived in Ireland. Although stuck in a hostel, she volunteered to train with a hairstylist based on Dublin’s Parnell Street – the only African hairdresser in the city at the time – and it paid dividends, with Tolu learning the latest in hair extension and plaiting techniques.  
“I’d always been interested in hairdressing,” reveals Tolu, who’d been a bank employee back in Nigeria. “It had been a hobby. But I went through some good training with her.”
More recently, Tolu has undergone expert training in New York, in order to acquire top-class skills in the area of straight hair extensions. “I’d noticed in Dublin how we used to have a lot of Irish girls coming for straight hair extensions,” she recalls.
When she moved to Dundalk, Tolu immediately saw a golden opportunity: the growing town, with a strong African population, had no African-run hair salon.
“I decided to give it a go,” says the businesswoman. 
However, starting off wasn’t easy. Having only just received permission to work, Tolu had no credit history in the country. “It was difficult to find the money,” she says, “I had nothing to show to the bank. They hardly believed in us.”
But Tolu and her husband managed to get some capital together, and the salon – initially called Adam and Eve – was born.
Today, renamed The Hair Extensions, it has three employees and a core customer base of Irish nationals, something Tolu seems proud of.
Whether it be for a debs, wedding, a reunion, or just a Saturday night, the word around Dundalk is that a visit to The Hair Extensions comes highly recommended.

The Hair Extensions
34 Church Street,
Dundalk, Co Louth
Opening hours:
Mon-Wed 10am-6pm
Thurs-Sat 10am-8pm

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