SPRING LAKE PARK, Minn. — Born in Italy and raised in Nigeria, Henry Amoloja came to Minnesota at 11 years old. He graduated from Roseville Area Schools and the University of Minnesota - Duluth before ultimately attending barber school.
Today, he is owner of Tribes Barber Studios and his Nigerian culture is present in his brand. Amoloja is Yoruba, one of the country's largest ethnic groups.
"A few decades back, people put tribal marks on their kids so people can recognize what tribe you belong to," Amoloja said, explaining the three stripes that make up his logo.
While his main shop is located near Fridley, he also serves clients in the D.C. metro. And now, his business is reaching people even further away.
This week, Amoloja launched Clippers Without Borders, an initiative to donate new and gently used clippers to barbers Nigeria with plans to expand to West Africa. Barbers here were eager to give, with more than 20 clippers donated in the first 24 hours.
"People in Nigeria, or in Africa in general, have incredible talent but they just lack access to the best tools like we have here," Amoloja said. "The average clipper here now is about $150. Your average barber here has like 10 clippers … but over there, they might just have that one clipper. We're talking about the cost of clippers is somebody's monthly salary."
Nigeria's currency, the naira, has fallen to a record low against the U.S. dollar for reasons including declining oil production and dollar scarcity, economists say. Like many countries, Nigeria is also experiencing high inflation.
"Another reason is because these big clipper companies like Wahl, Andis, Babyliss, Gamma, they're not really marketing to that part of the world," Amoloja said.
Amoloja says donations can be made directly to Tribes Barber Studios and if you're not sure what to purchase, a financial donation is best.
"The connections that I have in Nigeria will be able to distribute the clippers to the right people," he said. "Then, we'll tag each clipper with your name or your Instagram name … and be able to make that connection between the barber here and the barber in Nigeria."
For more information about the initiative, click here.