Skip to main content

From Caracas to Berlin

Sherlym Hernandez, a hairdresser from Venezuela, explains why she is so delighted to be working at a salon in Berlin.

Sherlym Hernandez works as a hairdresser in Berlin.
Sherlym Hernandez works as a hairdresser in Berlin. © Stephan Pramme

Germany. “These days I am happier than ever before to be a hairdresser. I find this surprising myself because I have been doing this job for such a long time, and actually have been wanting for ages to try something new. That said, I enjoy the contact with people and helping them to find the hairstyle that suits them. While the style can certainly be a little extravagant, it must appear natural nonetheless.

I am 28 years old and come from Venezuela. I did my two-year hairdressing apprenticeship in a small town near Caracas. I worked there for a number of years before emigrating to Europe. The political situation at home was difficult. My family can no longer afford to buy food, and the shelves in the shops are usually empty. I regularly send money to my mother and worry a lot about her situation.

First I went to Italy where I worked as a hairdresser in Rome. I did not enjoy the work much, however. Four years ago I moved to Berlin. I wanted to learn German and quickly find myself a different job. But things turned out differently: the integration school I attended required us to spend several hours a week working in our own professions in German. Because I liked the look of this hair salon here in Berlin, I asked whether they could offer me a placement. In time I began working for them on a freelance basis. And for the first time I am now really happy to be a hairdresser.

I work freelance for 40 hours a week on four days and can live well off my earnings. My colleagues are wonderful, the customers are great and I have really interesting conversations. Nobody has ever complained that I do not speak perfect German. Obviously the thing I can talk about best in German is hairstyles. Two to three times a year we go on training courses because styles often change. For the time being I do not want to open my own salon. I enjoy being independent and flexible.“

Report: Nicole Sagener