The road to the top is never easy. But when you're Malay in Chinese-dominated Singapore, the journey can be even tougher.
We're putting our heads out there but how many of us are guilty of ever having this thought.
Malays ah? Will they come on time and skip work or not?
We don't talk about it in public but this thought, borne often in private, seriously affects employment opportunities for Malays across many industries and workplaces... even in hairdressing.
Meet Eri, accomplished Malay Celebrity Hairstylist and founder of ERI SU SALON.
Meet Eri, accomplished Malay Singaporean Celebrity Stylist and founder of ERI SU Salon.
You wouldn't think that someone like him, having styled for many of Singapore's and KL's Malay celebrities and worked backstage on Asia's Next Top Model , experienced this discrimination.
But you'd be wrong.
As difficult as it was, he also managed to snag a job at a top Japanese Hair Salon in Singapore.
Could it be that he was not good enough? Perhaps.
As a budding hairstylist who wanted only to be the best in his field, Eri thought, he needed to do whatever it takes to upskill himself. He took the road less travelled, working as a stylist on Asia's Next Top Model.
Still, it doesn't seem to be sufficient.
It was then he realized that all his achievements and the hard work that went behind them may never be enough.
What more can he do, to prove his worth?
As painful as it may be, Eri understands that the real fight is not against the stylists who made those comments but against the mindset that people have towards Malays.
I wouldn't say they are right but I know that there is some truth in the stereotypes. As Malays, many of us value family very highly. Some, however, take the stereotype to the extreme and use family as an excuse to show up late or even not turn up at all. This behaviour doesn't just affect the individual but other people's perception of who we are.
His experience at the top Japanese hair salon was however transformational.
From there, Eri realizes that an organization, or even an individual's actions all boil down to the habits you do every single day. A lot of problems can be fixed once the right processes are put in place.
This realization gave him renewed purpose.
We may have been talking about Malay stylists but don't be mistaken, ERI SU SALON is not a Malay salon. Having to work twice as hard to get to where he is, Eri wants to show that everyone can flourish at the top as long as you are willing to put the heart, sweat and tears into developing your skills.
With this thought, ERI SU Salon was born.
To Eri, this means not taking race as a factor at all but instead, putting in place processes to hire and train stylists to keep skill, service, quality and experience tip-top.
The result? A multi-racial Singaporean salon with Japanese-level service and genuine Malay hospitality.
As you can read from reviews about Eri and his team, customers here always look and feel fabulous because the stylists here always goes the extra mile to give customers a good experience.
Most importantly, the hairstyles here look AH-MAZING.
That is yet another process he put in place in ERI SU SALON - to make sure stylists here at the forefront of hair trends and spare no effort in transforming customers into stars.
Discrimination against Malay stylists haven't been completely eradicated and maybe it never will be. But having stylists like Eri proudly stand up against discrimination and committing to provide a safe space for passionate stylists regardless of race is certainly a step in the right direction.
Would you support Eri and his team on this journey?
P.S. Creative Colour is to us their MUST-TRY service at ERI SU SALON. Understanding that not everyone has the means to afford bleached hair colours, Eri has designed budget-friendly hair colours that'll get you looking like a celebrity without breaking the bank. Not many salons bother to do that so we're just grateful to have uncovered a gem like Eri here at Beauty Undercover!