MANILA, Philippines -- Well-known hairdresser Ricky Reyes does not get depressed when he reads bad news in the newspapers. Instead, he asks himself how he can contribute to solving the country?s many problems.
And he believes in always landing the papers whenever he does something because it helps guide other Filipinos who want to help.
?The Filipino people have a good heart but they don?t know how to start to help, how to follow suit,? he explains.
Reyes is passionate about two things -- livelihood and education.
?Because I never had education and I love livelihood -- that is how I survived,? states the rags-to-riches salon owner who has 42 outlets all over the country without the help of a college degree. His father left him and his 10 siblings, and his mother did not have enough money to send him to cosmetology school.
He learned the trade by working in a salon where he swept the floor and watched how things were done. Soon, he was giving pedicures and the cutting hair.
In 1970, he managed to save P1,000 to venture on his own.
Nearly four decades later, Reyes continues to expand using his own money, instead of relying on other people?s money (OPM) via franchising as what many are doing including his own brother Les, owner of Reyes Haircutters, who has over 100 franchisees.
?Business should always be under your name so you see what happens all the time,? says the TV personality who has turned down numerous offers for franchising here and abroad.
Reyes, however, only sets up salons in malls (particularly the SM malls, because he was the first tenant of SM North EDSA when people were laughing at Henry Sy for building a mall during the crisis years of the ?80s).
This is because he does not want to compete with the small neighborhood salons, having come from humble beginnings himself.
Reyes says he makes it a point to visit all his salons at least once every quarter. Sometimes, this means visiting eight in a day where he spends half an hour in each.
But Reyes is now bending his rule on not going the franchising route with the Ricky Reyes Learning Institute set up on March 7, 1995 because he wants as many people as possible to learn a useful trade through the institute.
Fortunately, entrepreneurs are seeing the potential in setting up the institutes, particularly outside Metro Manila.
?Our website is always clogged with inquiries,? he says. He is already in talks for franchises in Cavite, Pampanga and Laguna.
He says the site gets 12 million hits a year and people are always asking him when he is going to their areas to give a talk or training.
?Not all can afford to go to college. But during our campus tours, we teach people that there are alternative studies,? he adds.
There are currently three Reyes Institutes in Cubao, Quiapo and Alabang. What Reyes wants is to expand the reach to the provinces where the need for livelihood skills is much greater.
Like some sort of poetic justice, the Quiapo branch is located in the same place where the Realistic Institute, the country?s top fashion and beauty school in the ?60s, once stood.
Reyes recalls how badly he wanted to study in Realistic but his mother just could not afford to send him there. Reyes says his Institute graduates 800 to 900 students every quarter. He says the courses are modular so one can study the specialized field he wants. A complete course on cosmetology takes two years.
The Learning Institute however does not only teach cosmetology, it also provides other programs such as training for hotel and restaurant services.
?A hotel only needs one manager but it needs several auxiliaries,? says Reyes. He adds that for this year, the institute will offer new courses in housekeeping, front desk operations, on top of the usual training for waiters and waitresses.
Reyes says there is a huge demand for hospitality courses graduates. He cites Macau, the gambling place near Hong Kong, which needs over 100,000.
?We provide what the market needs,? he says.
Asked how much he is worth, Reyes says he does not really know.
But he does share that he became successful in business by doing the opposite of what his mother, 89, who still lives with him, did when she was trying to support her 10 children.
He says his mother went into jewelry selling, the grocery business, hairdressing, buying and selling anything. There was no focus.
?Nothing became successful. She went into several business at the same time. In business you have to focus. You can?t be a parlor and sell ?longganisa? [native sausages]. You only sell items that are related to beauty.?
In his case, he was single-minded and determined to make a name for himself. In short, he was focused.
Reyes is optimistic that through the institutes, there will be waiters, waitresses, hairdressers who will one day become like him, if not even more successful.