Rural Entrepreneur Toklom Perme Transforms Hair Care Landscape in Arunachal Pradesh

In the remote villages of Borguli, Kiyit, and Ngopok in Arunachal Pradesh, access to a decent haircut was once a distant dream, requiring journeys of 20 to 55 kilometers to the nearest towns of Mebo and Pasighat. However, all of this changed nine months ago when Toklom Perme stepped into the scene.

In a region where small ethnic communities often celebrate their trailblazers in high-profile professions, 26-year-old Perme stands out as the first Adi tribesman to establish a barbershop in these rural areas. His endeavor has garnered praise from approximately 1,200 male villagers who now benefit from his services.

Initially, there was skepticism from villagers like Akok Lego, an elder from Kiyit village, when Perme approached him in January with the idea of opening a barbershop. The prevailing notion was that a young man like him might not endure long in a trade often associated with Hindi speakers. However, Perme’s success has proven the doubters wrong.

Today, Perme caters to an average of 15 clients, with Sundays and local holidays seeing a peak of up to 30 customers. He earns an average monthly income of ₹19,000, a substantial portion of which he sends back to his family in Bijari village in the adjoining Lower Dibang Valley district.

Speaking about his expenses in Kiyit, Perme shared, “My expenditure in Kiyit is at most ₹5,000, including ₹1,500 as rent for the shop and an attached room to live in. The rest goes toward the education and maintenance of my two daughters, as well as the upkeep of my parents who take care of them in Bijari.” His decision to relocate to Kiyit was partly influenced by his wife leaving him over a year ago, but it was primarily driven by the opportunity to work in a more densely populated area for increased earnings.

Many well-wishers on these platforms have urged Perme to consider formal training to refine his hairstyling skills beyond wielding scissors and electric hair clippers.

“I have a plan to upgrade and move to an urban area. At the same time, I want to ensure villagers are not denied the service closer to their homes,” Perme concluded, exemplifying the fusion of ambition and community spirit that defines his remarkable journey.