If you asked me a month and a half ago who I'd interview for Her Chair His Hair, I'd reply 'hopefully a couple people.' Never in my wildest dreams did I think six weeks in I would have the opportunity to chat with so many talented barbers let alone Mariela Perez (@Mariela_the_barber)! Many people know Mariela because of her work and recently, her appearance on the ScissorSalute™ Show this past Monday. This interview didn't just skim the surface, Mariela gave me the whole scoop and it's my pleasure to share it with you all.
Dedicated and diligent would go beyond the description of hardworking but even that doesn't cover a quarter of Mariela's perseverance. Located ten minutes outside of Phoenix, Arizona, this Lady Barber has already become a Manager at Elite Barbershop in 18 short months. Although it already appears that she's achieved much success, Mariela doesn't plan on stopping any time soon. Read below to hear her struggles and to celebrate her success with us.
HCHH: What inspired you to become a Barber?
Mariela: I took a free cosmetology course in high school, completed it but never went for my license because at the time I didn't have the money for it. Instead I started cutting at home and eventually at my previous workplace [unlicensed] that was a salon. I was making 40% commission and decided to go to Barber School to finally get my license because that would allow me to earn 65% automatically. Unfortunately, my boss threatened to fire me because she'd be making less money and knew my family needed my income that I made there. I left anyway and pursued barber school.
HCHH: What was a normal week for you during that time?
Mariela: A normal week looked like this:
- Sunday- Cut hair at home all day.
- Monday- Barber school 8a-3:30p, work 4p-10p
- Tuesday- Barber school 8a-3:30p, college 5-7p, work 9p-1a
- Wednesday- Barber school 8a-3:30p, work 4-10p
- Thursday- College 6-8am, 8a-3:30p Barber school, 4-10p
- Friday- 8am-4pm Barber school, 5-10pm work
- Saturday-8am-5:30pm Barber school, cut hair at home until 1-2am
HCHH: Wow! And here I am complaining after a few days like that. Was it tough?
Mariela: It wasn't so bad because I did what I had to do to get to where I wanted to be. My family was evicted during this time so I had to give a large portion of my savings to help pay rent and had to save double the amount of money.
"It's crazy I’m making my own dreams come true. On my flight here [to New York] - it was 5 hours so I read [the book] The Secret. Everything in it is so true. I’m doing things I have to in order to be where everything is happening."
HCHH: And now you have a fabulous job AND college education to show for it. So now that we know you're a hard worker inherently, how many men do you cut at the shop on a normal day?
Mariela: Each day is different but overall, approximately 90-105 cuts per week. The most clients I ever took was on a Friday, there were 28 of them.
HCHH: Wow! So when people find out you're a barber and not a stylist how do they react?
Mariela: Usually I'm out with my friends and guys will hit on us asking where I work...so I tell them. They don’t believe me when I say I'm a Barber and do men's hair only and they ask if I’m any good at it so I bust out pictures of my work. Then they believe me. [laughs]
Also, some guys will walk into the shop when three other guys are working with me and if I’m free I'll offer to cut their hair. They’ll look at me, roll their eyes and look at the guys. If they’re super rude I’ll tell them they can wait as long as they like for a guy.
"It’s just kind of like a wall that I’ve built so I don’t have to deal with those clients."
HCHH: So now that we know there are some guys who won't acknowledge you, have you ever been outright refused?
Mariela: No, not anymore. They used to but now people know about my work because it's posted on Instagram.
HCHH: Let's switch it up, no more boy talk. Do you have any events coming up?
Mariela: My shop is planning an event to give back to the community on July 20th. Free notebooks, pens, pencils and backpacks to the kids who come get their hair cut at the shop.
Also, at the end of August I'm hoping to put together a 'Barber Sunday Mass'- a gathering of barbers. No competitions, no dirty talk, straight meet and greet, share barber love. Just to get barbers together and not have so much animosity. I’m trying to get rid of that. We’re all barbers, all on the same team- all show love to each other.
HCHH: What's your favorite tool to use?
Mariela: My Oster Fading Comb. I do a lot of clipper over comb work and it speeds my work up.
HCHH: Favorite snack when you're super busy....Go!
Mariela: Definitely Starbursts...the yellow and orange ones.
HCHH: Anything you'd like to add?
Mariela: My biggest dream is to inspire others, doing what I’m doing. This girl from Chicago found me on Instagram, wrote me saying she wanted to be a barber and expressed her concerns. I talked her in to going and she’s going to start in August, now we keep in contact - we're friends. There’s been a couple girls who’ve messaged me and I try to get back to them, I feel that if I wrote someone I’d want to hear back.
"I love what I do, I just want to do more."
So not only is she a fabulous barber, Mariela is also apparently my Starburst twin. You all know you have that other person who likes the opposite colors so you don't look greedy! But I digress...The fantastic ladies, Christina Goree (@ChristinaGoree1), Founder and Shante Randolph (@TotalimageGroomed), VP of Lady Barbers United (a movement I am constantly inspired by) recently dubbed Mariela as Lady Barber of the Year in 2013 at the age of 21. Like a star, Mariela has a long, bright journey ahead of her and it is my pleasure, along with the rest of the Barber community, to continue watching her soar.
If you'd like to book an appointment with Mariela, please leave a comment below or contact her through Instagram @Mariela_the_barber. See you on Monday at 11 AM EST!