State of the Union: Taking Back Our Industry

Tonight I was involved in a conversation amongst many peers that discussed where the industry was going for Barbers and what we could do to improve it. There was talk about how Barbers are being poorly represented in the media all the way to how Barbers represent themselves poorly. It took me a minute to realize why I felt like I have heard this conversation before but not amongst Barbers and finally it hit me: every industry is currently facing the same problem.

If you read or keep up with my previous posts then you know that I have this knack for intertwining multiple industries or topics that seemingly have nothing to do with each other. It's a blessing and a curse because I can go completely off topic but I promise I always have a point. Stick with me.

Barbers, hair stylists, makeup artists, and nail technicians or aestheticians are facing the same reality: prices keep going up and wages stay the same, or in some cases, decrease. Before I became a Barber I was a makeup artist for quite a few years and a freelance makeup artist at that aka struggle city. We are constantly fighting as makeup artists to prove our worth to clients amongst a growing crowd of upcoming artists and the generation of established artists before us. 

But Barbers work in shops or studios, they don't 'freelance', so why are they struggling? I'm glad you asked. I'll get back to that.

Another issue is reputation amongst our industries and how the public perceives us. Half of it is from what they've experienced in their daily life and the other half is from what they see on television.  

You're telling me makeup artists don't rip each others hair out on set? No way. 

Another known fact about me is I don't keep my mouth shut and sometimes to a fault but it's who I am and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. With that being said, everyone knows I speak out often on women as Barbers and how we are constantly perceived as eye candy rather than equals at events. 

So, wait, most Barbers who happen to be women don't dress like they're on a yacht in Miami with Pitbull? Sadly not.

Perception. That's how we take our industry back.

You are only good as your perceived value in this era of being a Barber or makeup artist. That's why visually stimulating social media platforms like Youtube, Instagram and even Vine make a big impact. If you can walk the walk after talking the talk then you have instantly increased your value to complete strangers. 

People are learning how to perceive us through television shows or movies like Barbershop, Blush, Jerseylicious, Face Off and Cedric's Barber Battle. Not all are bad but not all are good either because they are completely one-sided and, in return, professionals feel like they're not being properly represented. 

When the public watches these shows that create a gilded perception, it instantly decreases the value of our work. They see the easiest and most simplified aspects of it and think that's all it requires to become successful. Forget the hundreds and thousands of hours of training or experience and the heavy investments into your kit or tools. You just get it for free like the Youtube gurus, right?

This leads me back to the earlier question of why Barbers struggle. We allow the public's perception to control our pricing.

Only in the Barbershop community have I seen such disdain for people who increase their prices based on their experience, market and simple ability to do so. Products have gone up in price, so has rent and every other utility, plus your own bills to support yourself. So why haven't your prices? Because we continually allow the public to say,"But it's so easy, look at XYZ show! So why are you charging so much?"

...Because I like to eat. (Cupcakes, for any of you who were wondering. My birthday is January 28th.)


Recently I have found myself heavily investing in my continued education, taking time to network with my peers and just take a step back to listen. So many Barbers have so much to say about the rapid decline of how Barbers are perceived but, equally, so many have hopes for changing that and taking our industry back.

There's a quote that says,"The world is full of nice people. If you can't find one, be one." 

This industry is brimming with talent: established and upcoming. If you can't find something that makes you proud and willing to represent it, then make a change. There is one thing that stands true in any industry and that is if you build it they will come. Small changes create a ripple effect in our small community that reach out to our clients and their friends or families which in return will help build a positive perception. 

Think about it.

Until Next Time,
Cassie

 

Lena Piccininni cuts HerChairHisHair at The Line Up Inc Event

Recently a group of talented and motivated barbers came together to form The Line Up Inc here in New York. It consists of 7 barbershops who put on showcases and bring our industry together while showcasing some of the finest talent it has to offer.

While at one of their events hosted at Filthy Rich Barbershop in Queens, NY I had the pleasure to be cut by Lena Piccininni. She was asked to cut on the fly and, therefore, needed a model last minute so of course I said yes to being cut by one of my fellow ladies! Lena did not use any of her own tools so I thought that was pretty awesome, she just went for it. 

TheFit_Barber, David Falla, and I figured not only would this be a fun video but a great opportunity to show us having fun while Lena kicks ass. A big thank you to David for putting this awesome video together and not looking at me like I was crazy when I first asked at the event. 

Enjoy.

Full disclosure: I came from working in the shop all day and had a decent amount of product in my hair so please excuse it. :-X

www.HerChairHisHair.com

Produced by FITBARBER @thefit_barber

Music: Maroon 5 - Sugar (remix)

The Woman Behind Your Man's Hands: Mr. Nail Lounge

Wow is this write-up well overdue! When I traveled to Los Angeles for the Xotics Battle this past January, I knew there was one stop in Hollywood I absolutely had to make. Mr. Nail Lounge is prominently located at 9005 Melrose Avenue but the details don't stop with the zip code. 

Naturally I had to sit down with the leading lady, Maston, who is behind every good looking pair of hands in and near Tinseltown. She welcomed me with open arms all the way from Manhattan to check out what West Hollywood has to offer.  It's no secret that I believe in elevating our industry and how people perceive barbers but this takes it to another level! Check out some details on this amazing lounge for men from haircuts to pedicures and let me know what you think of this trend picking up!

When you think of a business owner behind a men's nail salon, you assume they must have been immersed in the industry from a young age. This is not the case with Maston nor her mother, Nana, who is her business partner and it was a complete surprise to me. Okay, I know you want to know, she was in Dental school. Yeah, I was shocked too. 

Better yet, the idea came to Maston as she was considering what she wanted to do after school and realized this niche industry was extremely underserved in Hollywood. 'Too many guys have to go to regular nail salons and deal with the chemicals, chatter and awkward looks', Maston told me. She wanted to create an environment that allowed men to indulge while relaxing whether that means watching the flat screen, having a cocktail or a shave.

Upon walking in to Mr. Nail Lounge, your world is completely transformed from the rainy L.A. day to deep, black walls, ornate gold fixtures and large leather chairs. Even the small things were thought about too: menus for both your drinks and your services were individually done, bronze tubs for your feet to be pampered in, and of course, a barber station.

When I visited it wasn't even open for a full year and business was already booming. Upon asking her what she envisions for the future of men's nails and her business, Maston confidently replied that they plan on opening one in Orange County, California and, hopefully, New York City too. I know plenty of guys who would love this (and some who need it), do you? 

Check out the gallery below, your mind will be blown if it hasn't already. 

Until Next Time,

Cass

How to Care: Grey, Silver, and White Hair!

It's been a while since I've written an article on actual men's grooming and, as always, whenever a singular topic presents its self I get the urge to write about it. Lately I have seen a lot of talk about the Barber/Stylist crossover movement and with that comes a responsibility to know how to care for all hair types. 

Sam Elliot Grey Yellow Hair Her Chair His Hair NYC

So what happens when your client's hair goes grey/silver/white with a dash of yellow? It takes away from your perfect haircut and, even worse,  it makes the hair look unhealthy. How many of your men or women in your chair have asked for help but you couldn't really figure it out? It's short and simple: haircare and the toxins they are around every day.

I live in Manhattan, New York City and half of my clients live here as well or in the surrounding areas. Everyone knows the air here isn't exactly quality and the same goes for Los Angeles, too. They don't call it 'smokers yellow' for no reason. Oh, it's not yellow? It's frizz? That's normal too. 

Here's a few tips for addressing and putting the brilliance back in your client's hair.

1. Yellow Hair: Yuck!

When hair loses pigment it also becomes porous and can suck in every toxin that it comes into contact with. A really simple solution that I tell my clients to do is use a violet shampoo. The purple/blue color neutralizes the yellow and gives that beautiful silver grey color back. Men hate going to great lengths to take care of their hair and most women don't want to take additional time out of their day either. This may not be the end-all solution for dull or yellow color but I have seen clients try it and love it.

2. Frizz Control

Most men just throw paste or gel in their hair and hope the little stray hairs don't escape from the perfect shape they created in the morning. There are two reasons for this and one is dehydration which most people know about. A lot of people use 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners which doesn't effectively hydrate the hair, always use a separate conditioner and you will feel the difference. 

Second reason for frizz is using the thinning/texturizing shears on top of the head. I'm not saying my way is right and yours is wrong: if it works for you then continue on. But I almost never use texturizing shears on top of the head, it's my personal prerogative as a Barber. I find techniques such as point-cutting or slicing work more effectively with this hair type rather than razors or texturizing shears. 

3. Long Hair Versus Short 

This is a call that only your client can make but I will say that shorter hair tends to look better on grey, silver or white. Of course this doesn't apply to everyone but I find that length almost never does any justice for men with a lack of pigment. I'm not saying to buzz all of it but to keep it in check and not let it get too out of control.

Hope this helps when assessing your clients hair and what they want compared to what they currently have! Leave a comment below if you have any additional tips, tricks or products you think are worth using.

Always,

Cassie