Raising & shaping eyebrows
Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
Manahil Riaz, a sophomore psychology major, appears to be your average Aggie, but talk to her and you will find that she's also an entrepreneur with a small blooming business in College Station.
Riaz practices threading, "an ancient Middle Eastern form of hair removal," Riaz said. Her Facebook group, "Threading by Manahil," has a detailed description of the technique involved.
"The practitioner holds one end of the cotton thread in his or her teeth and the other in the left hand. The middle is looped through the index and middle fingers of the right hand. The practitioner then uses the loop to trap a series of unwanted hairs and pull[s] them from the skin."
"It's literally like plucking, pulling the hair from the roots, but you're doing many hair strands at once, which makes it so much quicker," Riaz explained.
Riaz started threading in the seventh grade but she said she didn't perfect the technique until her senior year in high school, when she was capable of defining an arch. This semester, Riaz advanced her business by making business cards, putting up flyers around campus and making a Facebook group.
"First, threading was something that I did to myself. One day I was doing my eyebrows in front of my friend and she asked me to do hers. Soon I was threading pretty much all of my friend's eyebrows," Riaz said. "After this, my friends started telling their friends, and soon I started to thread a big enough number that I said 'Maybe I should start a really small business here in College Station.'"
Threading is a skill that you usually find in large cities. The closest city to College Station that has threading salons is Houston.
"There aren't any salons in Bryan or College Station that do this. You have to go to Houston to find them," Riaz said.
Riaz charges five dollars for threading one eyebrow, and seven dollars for threading both eyebrows plus any other part of the face. Kanza Soomro, a freshman chemistry major, said she was complaining one day about having to drive home to get her eyebrows done and Riaz offered to do them for her. She's been going to Riaz ever since.
"Manahil is great at threading eyebrows. It's so easy to get them done here instead of going home to Houston. Ever since I started going to her, I haven't gone home to get them done," Soomro said. "Also, Manahil makes it as comfortable as she possibly can, opening up her home for her clients.
"Threading is also very personalized. You are able to get a really defined arch, unlike waxing, where you just rip off all the hair at once, or plucking, where you do one at a time and aren't able to see the bigger picture," Riaz said. "And since you're pulling the hair from the root, it should take around three weeks for you to need threading again, which is very convenient."
At first Riaz started threading just for her Pakistani friends. They started spreading the word to their friends, drawing a number of students from other cultures to her.
"I've really just been branching out," Riaz said. "I started with just two people, but now I've got anywhere from 20 to 30 customers that are regulars, but I've seen many more than that for a one-time threading."
Megan Stanely, a former student, has been a client of Riaz for seven months.
"I even think she's better than the salon in Houston. I like how she has a vision of what she wants my eyebrows to look like," Stanely said. "I've been threading my brows for about two years in Houston, but when one of my friends saw a flyer on campus for Manahil, I gave it a shot and I'm definitely staying with her now.
"It usually also works out great with schedules just because there are periods of time when everyone has tests, including me, so these times are naturally slow," she said. "But there are exceptions, like when there is a social or formal for a sorority or something like that, I'll see a whole lot more girls than I usually do."
More important to Riaz than having a huge business of threading is what she feels she's contributing to Texas A&M.
"By threading, I am actively spreading my Middle Eastern culture on campus, and I just love knowing that."